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Oxroto UmvissTTT Puss 




• • • 

• • 

• _ • 

• • 


For introductions which have given me access to many of the 
documents dted in this volume I am indebted to the Rev. A. H. 
Johnson of All Souls, Oxford, and to Mr. Hubert Hall of the 
Public Record OflSice. The custodians of various collections of 
records have been most courteous, notably those in charge of the 
British Museimi, the Bodleian library, the Public Record Office, 
the archives of the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church, Canter- 
bury, and the estate docimients at Holkham Hall. Messrs. J. M. 
Davenport and J. R. Symonds put at my disposal the enclosure 
awards of Oxfordshire and Herefordshire respectively. In making 
revisions and in correcting proof I have relied upon the skill and 
care of Miss A. F. Rowe of Cambridge. Professors C. H. Haskins 
and E. F. Gay of Harvard read the imfinished text and offered 
valuable suggestions; in particular I am under heavy obligation 
to Professor Gay, whose unfailing encouragement and generous 
assbtance have made possible the publication of these chapters. 

H* L* G. 

Cambbzdge, Massachusetts, 
August, 1915. 




The Two- and Three-Field System 17 

The Earlier History of the Two- and Three-Field System . 50 

Early Irregular Fields within the Midland Area 83 


The Later History of the Midland System in Oxfordshire 
AND Herefordshire 109 

The Celtic System 157 

The Influence of the Celtic System in England 206 

The Kentish System 272 

The East Anglian System 305 

The Lower ThaiIes Basin 355 

Results and Conjectures 403 



A. Extracts from a Survey of Kington, Wiltshire 421 

B. Extracts from a Survey of Handborough, Oxfordshire . 430 

C. Summaries of Tudor and Jacobean Surveys which illus- 

trate Normal Two- and Three-Field Townships .... 437 


Evidence^ largely Early, bearing upon the Extent of the 
Two- AND Three-Field System 450 


Summaries of Tudor and Jacobean Surveys which illustrate 
Irregular Fields within the Area of the Two- and 
THree-Field System 510 

Parliamentary Enclosures in Oxfordshire 536 


Extracts from the Survey of an Estate lying in New- 


Summaries of Tudor and Jacobean Surveys which illustrate 
Irregular Township-Fields in the Basin of the Lower 
Thames 549 

INDEX 561 



I. Map of England and Wales, showing Important Places re- 
fened to and the Boundaries of the Two- and Three-Field 
S3rstem FrotUis piece 

U. Sketch of the Tithe Map of the Township of Chalgrove, Ox- 
fordshire. 1841 20 

III. Sketch of the Enclosure Map of the Township of Croxton, 
Lincolnshire. 1810 26 

IV. Sketch of the Enclosure Map of the Township of Stow, Lin- 
colnshire. 1804 75 

V. Sketch of a Map of Padbury, Buckinghamshire. 1591 ... 77 

VI. Enclosure Map of Oxfordshire 115 

VII. Sketch of the Enclosure Map of the Township of Kingham, 

Oxfordshire. 1850 127 

Vni. Sketch of the Enclosure Map of the Risbury Division of Stoke 

Prior, Herefordshire. 1855 144 

DC. Sketch of the Enclosure Map of the Township of Holmer, 

Herefordshire. 1855 146 

X. Sketch of the Enclosure Map of the Parish of Marden, Here- 
fordshire. 1819 147 

XI. Sketch of a Townland in Donegal, Ireland, showing the Hold- 
ings of three Tenants. 1845 190 

XII. Plan of an Estate of All Souls College, Oxford, Ijdng in the 

Townships of Newington and Upchxirch, Kent. 1593 ... 274 

Xm. Plan of an Estate in the Township of Buxton, Norfolk. 17 14 . 311 

XrV. Plan of an Estate in the Township of Shropham, Norfolk. 

1714 312 

XV. Sketch of a Map of the Township of West Lexham, Norfolk. 

1575 317 

XVI. Plan of the Open Fields of Weasenham, Norfolk, showing the 

Location of George Ellmdon's Holding. 1600 322 

XVn. Sketch of a Map of the Township of Holkham, Norfolk, show- 
ing the Fold Courses. 1590 327 


C. Inq. p. Mort Chancery Inquisitions post Mortem (reign, 

file, number). 

C. P. Recov. Ro Conmion Pleas Recovery RdL 

D. of Lane, M. B Duchy of Lancaster, Miscellaneous Book. 

Exch. Aug. Of., M. B Exchequer, Augmentation Office, Miscel- 
laneous Book. 

K. B. Plea Ro King's Bench Plea Roll. 

Land Rev., M. B Land Revenue, Miscellaneous Book. 

Ped. Fin Pedes Finium (case, file, number). 

Rents, and Survs., Portf Rentals and Surve3rs, Portfolio. 


• • • 


• •• 


• •• 

The term '' field system " signifies the mamier in whloH the 
inhabitants of a township subdivided and tilled their acahle. 
meadow, and pasture land. Although a study of field sysV^fi^ff. 
may seem to be primarily of antiquarian interest, the f oUowiirg;'. , . 
chapters have been written as a contribution to our knowledge V .-•. 
of the settlement of England and to the history of English agri- ' .' 
culturel Since these subjects are wide in scope, no attempt has 
been made to treat either of them fully; yet it may not be 
impossible to show that a comprehension of the structure and 
cultivation of township fields is germane to both. 

The settlement of England, as every one knows, is a topic 
relative to which the sources of information are very scanty. • To 
what extent Celtic and Roman influences persisted after the 
Germanic invasions of the fifth century is inadequately revealed 
in existing written records.^ To supplement narrative accoimts 
scholars have had recourse to such indirect sources of information 
as linguistics, mythology, archaeology, and to later social, govern- 
mental, and legal institutions. Since not the least significant 
among social customs, especially with primitive peoples, is the 
method adopted in tilling the soil, an imderstanding of the differ- 
ences in agricultural practice early manifested in various parts of 
England may prove of assistance in distinguishing between the 
groups that retained or occupied and held the several sections of 
the coimtry. 

Perhaps a still more important and more comprehensive sub- 
ject is the history of English agriculture. Until the nineteenth 

^ The question as to what Gennanic groups occupied the several parts of Eng- 
land in the course of the fifth and sixth centuries is ably discussed by H. M. Chad- 
wick, The Origin of the English Nationf Cambridge, 1907. 


century agriculture* r^riiained the chief source of the national 
wealth of England* tod no account of the fortunes of her people 
that neglects the'-iopic is adequate. No improvements in the 
arts before tIiV:mtroduction of the factory system affected so 
large a propbhion of the population as did improvements 

in tillage^,;^d if disastrous changes occurred the men who 

• • 

suflfered-.were the bone and sinew of the nation. What the 

• *• 

foUpwiiig 'chapters have to tell relates to only a single phase of 

agricUtural progress; but, since that phase is the manner in 

KtucK more and more of the soil was brought under improved 

•Veiiltivation, it has an immediate bearing upon national wealth 

•/..itnd individual well-being. 

:\\'. *• The agriculture and settlement of primitive peoples have been 

• . \\ * studied with less diligence by English than by German scholars — 

perhaps a natural outcome of the perception in Germany that 

an intimate relation existed between the early history of the 

Germans and the agrarian side of their life. No passages in 

the writings of classical historians are discussed more frequently 

than the brief descriptions of these matters found in Caesar and 

Tacitus. Inherent tendencies toward democracy or toward 

aristocracy, it is thought, are there to be discerned. Attention, 

too, has been focused upon the agriculture of the Germans as 

practiced somewhat later, when they invaded the Roman empire 

and in their laws gave testimony to their methods of tilling the 


Since all such documentary references to early agrarian custom 
are brief, it has been usual to interpret them in the light of later 
usages, descriptions of which have an added value in constituting, 
as they do, records of the age to which they belong. To two of 
her scholars is Germany particularly indebted for interpretations 
and descriptions of this kind. During the second quarter of 
the nineteenth century Georg Hanssen, stimulated perhaps by 
the pioneer activity of the Danish Olufifsen, set forth in a series 
of papers the various field systems or types of agriculture existent 
at one time or another in Germanic territories.^ In continuation 
of Hanssen's studies, August Meitzen published in 1895 a more 

^ Agrarhistarische AbhandlungeHf 2 vols., Leipzig, i88a-S4. 


comprehensive work.^ Relying largely upon the plans of town- 
ship fields as they appeared at the time of their enclosure in the 
nineteenth century, he interpreted and compared the earlier 
agrarian arrangements of Roman, Germanic, Celtic, and Slavic 
peoples. Not merely to field systems, however, did he have 
recourse, but in the types of village settlement and in the forms 
of dwelling-house adopted by the peoples in question he found 
additional evidence for determining the movements of the popu- 
lation of Europe in the early Middle Ages. The task was a vast 
one and its achievement noteworthy; but the generalizations 
suffer somewhat from the circumstances that much of the evi- 
dence is late in date and that such of it as comes from certain 
countries, notably France, England, and Italy, is inconsiderable. 
For information regarding English field arrangements Meitzen 
relied mainly upon the lucid account given in Seebohm's English 
Village Community.* In this cleverly written book the author 
reproduces a plan of the township of Hitchin, Hertfordshire, 
made at the time of the enclosure of the open common fields 
about 1816. It is the type of evidence which Meitzen himself 
was to use extensively and which, despite its recent date, is 
always of value. Beginning with a description of the features 
portrayed in the Hitchin plan, features which constitute the so- 
called three-field system, Seebohm with the assistance of three or 
four terriers carries the reader back to Anglo-Saxon days, arguing 
that the open fields of English villages at that time differed in no 
essential particular from the Hitchin fields of 1816. Behind 
these descriptions runs the thread of an hypothesis which inter- 
ested the author more than did the presentation of facts; for it is 
the thesis of the book that the practically imchanging open-field 
system of an English township had from Roman days served as 
the protective shell of a community settled in serfdom upon it.' 

^ Siedelung und Agrarwesen der Westgermanen und Ostgermanenf der KtUen^ 
Rdmetf Fitmen und Slawen, 3 vols, and atlas, Berlin, 1895. ^ account of the 
antecedent literature of the subject is given in vol. i, pp. 19-28. 

' Frederic Seebohm, The English Village Community examined in its Relalions 
to the Manorial and Tribal Systems and to the Common or Open Field System of 
Husbandry, London, 1883. 

* Ibid., 409. 


In contrast the author sketches the Celtic field system, referring 
particularly to the aspect of a nineteenth-century Irish township * 
and to the testimony of early Welsh laws. As an accoimt of 
early agricultural arrangements Seebohm's treatment is defi- 
cient in scope, his meagre evidence by no means warranting the 
inference that the three-field system was prevalent throughout 
England from the earliest times. 

So far as the structure of English village fields is concerned, 
Seebohm was not the first to make inquiries. Nasse, in a brief 
monograph, had already examined with some care the Anglo- 
Saxon evidence to ascertain whether it showed the arable imen- 
closed and parcelled out among the tenants in intermixed strips.^ 
Having satisfied himself that it did, he turned to thirteenth- 
century dociunents to inquire whether a two-field or a three-field 
system was then prevalent. Rogers, as he noted, had surmised 
that arable lands were at this time usually left one-half fallow 
each year, and Fleta in the reign of Edward I had implied that 
the two systems were co-existent. Since Nasse's own investiga- 
tions revealed to him various instances of three-field husbandry in 
contrast with only one description of two fields, he concluded 
that in the thirteenth century the former was " decidedly the 
prevailing system." • This view of Nasse's is what Seebohm, 
in so far as he wrote of field systems, has made popular. Rogers's 
conjecture is repeated by Vinogradoflf , who, after pointing to nine 
or ten two-field townships and noting that Walter of Henley as 
well as Fleta was familiar with both systems, surmises that the 
two-field rotation may have been " very extensively spread in 
England in the thirteenth century." * 

The evidence adduced regarding English field systems thus 
proves to be somewhat slight — rather too slight to warrant 

* Cf. bdow, p. 191. 

' Erwin Nasse, On the AgricuUural CommunUy of the Middle Ages, and Indosures 
of the Sixteenth Century in England (translated by H. A. Ouvry, London, 1872), 
pp. 19-26. Cf. below, p. 51 sq. 

* Ibid., 52-58. Most of Nasse's citations refer only to a three-course rota- 
tion of crops, which does not necessarily imply a three-field system. Cf. below, 
pp. 44-45. 

* Paul Vinogradoff, Villainage in England (Oxford, 1892), pp. 229-230. 


Vinogradoff's summary dismissal of the subject.^ It reduces, in 
brief, to a familiarity with the three-field system as practiced in 
nineteenth-century Hitchin, projected back by the testimony of 
two thirteenth-century writers and by some twenty references 
to two- or three-field villages dating mainly from the same 
century. Yet since Vinogradoflf wrote no one has dissented 
from his pronouncement or taken a further interest in the 

One of the problems upon which, as has been intimated, the 
study of field systems promises to throw light is the development 
of English agriculture. With this development, so far as it 
resulted from the innovations of the eighteenth century which 
had to do with the rotation of crops and the introduction of 
convertible husbandry, we are not unfamiliar.* It chances, 
however, that these improvements were contemporary with the 
transformation of England from an agricultural into a manu- 
facturing country, and that for this reason the benefits conferred 
by the experiments of Thomas Coke and others reached a far 
smaller proportion of the population than would have been 
affected had the change occurred earlier. In days when the 
annual return from tillage and sheep-raising determined the 
prosperity of the people to a greater degree than when these 
pursuits were supplemented by the work of the factories, farming 
assumed more importance. It is with the improvements of the 
earlier period that the following chapters are more immediately 

In English agriculture interest has always fluctuated between 
corn-growing anil pasture-farming. During the Middle Ages a 

1 *' The chief features of the field-system which was in operation in England 
during the middle ages have been sufficiently cleared up by modem scholars, 
e^>ecially by Nasse, Thorold Rogers, and Seebohm. . . . Everybody knows that 
the arable of an English village was commonly cultivated under a three years' 
rotation of crops; a two-field system is also found very often; there are some 
mstances of more complex arrangements, but they are very rare, and appear late — 
not earlier than the fourteenth century " (ibid., 224). The complex arrangement 
at Littleton, Gloucestershire, that Vinogradoff proceeds to discuss refers to demesne 
lands, which possibly did not lie in open field. 

* A good sketch of it is given by W. H. R. Curtkr, A Short History of English 
Agriculture (Oxford, 1909), pp. 11 1-2 28. 


combination of the two was usually effected through the annual 
communal tillage of a part of the improved arable, and the 
pasturing of sheep and cattle upon the waste and upon that por- 
tion of the arable which during the year in question lay fallow. 
Of enclosed land held in severalty and available either for tillage or 
for pasturage there was little. Such as existed was in general to 
be found among the demesne lands of the lord or in the home closes 
of the tenants. Whenever, none the less, our records appraise 
enclosed land they give it a higher valuation than they assign 
to the open-field arable, an indication that from an early period 
separable land available for both pasture and tillage was recog- 
nized as more remunerative than common arable field.^ 

A corollary of this estimate is that agricultural progress was 
bound to take one of two directions. It was necessary either 
that the unenclosed arable of a township should be brought imder 
better tillage while continuing to lie open, or that it should be 
enclosed and given over to convertible husbandry.* From an 
agricultural point of view the latter procedure was, of course, the 
wiser and has ultimately been adopted. But there stood in the 
way of such a transformation serious technical and social diffi- 
culties. The enclosure of the old fields implied, as we shall see, 
a consolidation of the scattered parcels of each holding and a 
cessation of commimal tillage. For a long time the latter step 
was actually impossible of accomplishment. Mediaeval plough- 
ing demanded a team of eight oxen or horses yoked to a heavy 

^ At Haversham, Bucks, for example, the demesne comprised " c acre terre 
arabilis iacentes in separali que valent per annum xxx s. iiii d. . . . et centum acre 
terre que iacent in communi et valent per annum si sunt Geminate zvi s. viii d.; 
et si non sunt seminate nihil valent quia pastura communis est " (C. Inq. p. Mort., 
Edw. m, F. 45 (20), 9 Edw. HI). 

' The term " convertible husbandry " is used in the following chapters to desig- 
nate the continuous annual tillage of improved lands under a succession of grain 
and grass crops. The equivalent German term is " neuere Feldgraswirtschaft '' 
(Hanssen, Agrarkistoriscke Abkandlungenj i. 216 sq,). Although, when once in 
grass, land thus tilled was usually left so for more than one year, this feature should 
not be insisted upon in a definition, as is done by W. Roscher (System der Volks- 
wirthschaft, 2. Bd., Naiianaldkonomik des Ackerhaues und der verwandten Urproduc- 
lioneny 12th edition, Stuttgart, 1888, p. 89). Some of Hanssen's illustrations show 
no series of grass years (cf. pp. 227, 231). Convertible husbandry was sometimes 
practiced upon open-field lands (cf. below, p. 129, 158). 


plough/ whereas even a team of four beasts, which was still used 
in places until the end of the eighteenth century,* was beyond 
the reach of any except the more prosperous tenants. Communal 
ploughing thus became inevitable, and it was only natural that 
strips should be ploughed successively for each contributor to 
the plough team. In this way an antiquated technique of tillage 
long prevented the consolidation of the scattered strips of the 
holdings. Added to this difficulty was the social one. Communal 
husbandry had in its favor the authority of long tradition, 
a potent force with a timorous and conservative peasantry. In 
the event of readjustment — the peasant asked himself — would 
not the strong profit, the i>oor suflFer ? Hence there grew up a 
popular prejudice against the enclosure and improvement of the 
common fields. 

It shoxild not, however, be assumed, as is often done, that 
agricultural improvement could take place only through en- 
closure. Certain open-field systems were superior to others, 
and a substitution of the better for the i>oorer meant definite 
progress. While a two-field arrangement, for example, permitted 
the annual tillage of only one-half of the arable, a three-field one 
utilized two-thirds of it and a four-field one three-fourths. 
Moreover, a transition from one to the other of these systems, 
or to an irregular arrangement of fields, involved no abandon- 
ment of intermixed holdings or of cooperative ploughing; and, 
inasmuch as no tenant had anything to lose by such a change 
but each was likely to gain by it, friction did not arise. Of the 
substitution of one system for the other little record is left in 
complaints before royal courts, in petitions for parliamentary 
redress, or in the jeremiads of social reformers. Evidence re- 
garding it has to be sought in the records of manorial courts, and 
especially in terriers and surveys that picture the subdivisions 
of the arable fields. It was the slow pacific change which most 

> P. VinogTadoff, English Society in the Eleventh Century (Oxford, 1908), 

P- 154. 

' " Four horses are generally put to a plow, even if the work is a second or third 

tilth; and on land that has lain a few years the strength is often increased to six 

horses " (W. Pearce, General View of the Agriculture of the County of Berkshire^ 

London, 1794, p. 24). 



easily escapes the chronicles but which is no less significant in 
the annals of progress than are dramatic transformations. Since 
this phase of the subject has been little studied by modem stu- 
dents, considerable attention will be devoted to it in the following 

The other form of agricultural advance, the enclosure of the 
township's open arable fields and unimproved common, has 
attracted much notice even from the end of the fifteenth century. 
Because it then excited popxilar discontent and appeared to be 
conducive to depopulation, it straightway fell imder the censure 
of the Tudor government, which, like the other rising mercantilis- 
tic powers, was extremely sensitive on the latter point. Parlia- 
mentary enactment was followed by royal inquisition, both 
concerned primarily with depopulation. Complaint, legislation, 
investigation, litigation, and revolt continued throughout the 
sixteenth century and into the seventeenth. Opposition then 
became somewhat less vocal and less violent, although the process 
none the less went on. Precisely how much was accomplished 
during these two centuries in the way of enclosure and conversion 
of common lands it is difficult to determine. The area seems not 
to have been great in the sixteenth century, but to have been 
considerable in a few localities during the seventeenth.^ What 
is clear is the persistence throughout midland England, in the 
middle of the eighteenth century, of great areas of common 
arable field. During the one hundred and twenty-five years 
that followed, however, most of this was enclosed by act of 
parliament, and at the end of the nineteenth century an open- 
field township in England had become a curiosity. 

To this long-continued and much-distrusted process consider- 
able attention has been given by modern students. Scrutton 
formulated the problem, especially with reference to the enclosure 
of unimproved commons.* Gay has described critically the 
contemporary literature.' He has further examined the findings 
of the inquisitions of Tudor and Jacobean times, so far as they 

* Cf. below, pp. II, n. i, loi, 107, 149-152, 207, 307-312. 
■ T* JI. Scrutton, Commons and Common Fields, or the History and Policy of the 
Laws relating io Commons and Enclosures in England, Cambridge, 1887. 
' E. F. Gay, Zur GeschichU der Einhegungen in England, Berlin, 1902. 


are preserved, and on the basis of these has estimated the extent 
to which enclosure proceeded during the century in question.^ 
Relative to the period after 1607 no such comprehensive and 
scholarly investigation has been imdertaken. Miss Leonard's 
paper on seventeenth-century enclosures is useful for its evidence 
about Durham; ^ but, since what happened in that coimty was 
not representative of the usual course of events, it can form 
no basis for a generalization.' Other testimony concerning 
seventeenth-century enclosures, as it occurs in the records of the 
privy coimdl, has been collected by Conner; and the paper which 
embodies his results has been expanded into a stout volmne by 
the restatement of much that had already been said on the 
subject.^ Touching the enclosures of the eighteenth and nine- 
teenth centuries no better account than Slater's has appeared; 
but this is hardly satisfactory, for it is based, not upon the most 
detailed and accurate dociunents available, but upon more sum- 
mary ones.* Nevertheless, it serves to give a general idea of 
the extent and location of such arable fields as were enclosed by 
act of parliament. 

In view of the inadequate treatment of the enclosure movement 
after the days of James I, an attempt will be made in one of the 
following chapters to outline a more satisfactory method of study- 
ing it.* The later enclosure history of two English coimties will 

* ''Indosures in England in the Sixteenth Century," Quarterly Journal of 
Economics^ 1903, xvii. 576-597; *The Inquisitions of Depopulation in 1517 and 
the Domesday of Indosures," Royal Hist. Soc., Trans., new series, 1900, xiv. 
231-303; " The Midland Revolt and the Inqubitions of Depopulation of 1607," 
ibid., 1904, xviii. 195-244. He concludes, " The specific indosure movement . . . 
reveals itself as one of comparatively small beginnings, gradually gaining force 
through the sixteenth century and continuing with probably little check through- 
out the seventeenth century, until it was absorbed in the wider indosure activity of 
the eighteenth century " {" Indosures in England,^' p. 590). 

' E. M. Leonard, " The Indosure of Common Fields in the Seventeenth Cen- 
tury,'' Royal Hist. Soc., Trans, , new series, 1905, xix. 101-146. 

* Cf. below, pp. 107, no, 138. 

* £. C. K. Conner, " The Progress of Indosure during the Seventeenth Cen- 
tury," English Historical Review, 1908, xxiii. 477-501; expanded into Common 
Land and Indosure, London, 191 2. 

* Gilbert Slater, The English Peasantry and Ike Enclosure of Common Fields 
London, 1907. Cf. below, p. in, n. 2. 

* Chapter IV, below. 


be examined in some detail, not only for the purpose of ascertain- 
ing the extent to which open arable fields persisted within their 
borders, but also in the hope of discovering what systems of 
tillage were practiced at the time of enclosing. In so far as it 
is possible to determine whether these were improvements upon 
old methods, and whether any relationship existed between them 
and the tendency toward enclosure, new light will have been 
thrown upon the history of English farming. 

The study of field systems, while it should prove conducive to 
a knowledge of the phases of agricultural development, is, as has 
been indicated, related to another aspect of English history. 
Since the structure and tillage of township fields have roots far 
in the past, the subject is one that reflects the usages and 
characteristics of primitive society. For this reason it furnishes 
acceptable information about the groups of settlers whose fusion 
in early Anglo-Saxon days resulted in the formation of the English 
people. Written records of that period being few, investigations 
and inferences like those which Meitzen made for the continent 
are pertinent for England. To such the later chapters of tius 
volume are in a measure devoted. 

Within the sphere of agrarian studies it is possible to direct 
attention to types of settlement and to units of land measure as 
well as to field systems. To the first of these topics no such study 
has been given in England as Meitzen and Schluter have 
bestowed upon Germany.^ Maitland's remarks and Vinogradoff 's 
examination of Essex and Derbyshire are the only approaches to 
the subject, and the latter is concerned with the size rather than 
the structure of village settlement.* Units of land measurement, 
however, have to some extent been considered in two important 
recent works, whose authors have hazarded certain inferences as 
to Celtic and Roman influences.' Relative to the subject of 

* Otto Schluter, Siedlungskunde des Tholes der UnstrtU von der sachlenburger 
Pforle his zur MUndungy Halle, 1896. 

' F. W. Maitland, Domesday Book and Beyond^ three Essays in the Early 
History of England (Cambridge, 1897), pp. 15-16; Vinogradoff, English Society 
in the Eleventh Century, pp. 269-273. 

* F. Seebohm, Customary Acres and their Historical Importance, London, 1914; 
G. J. Turner, A Calendar of the Feet of Fines relating to the County of HunHngdon 


field systems, since no studies have followed those of Nasse and 
Seebohm, described above, it has for the most part been assmned 
that either the two-field or the three-field system, or the two 
side by side, prevailed from the earliest times.* Not the least 
of the aims of the following discussion, therefore, will be an en- 
deavor to show that the field systems of England were by no 
means uniform, — that no fewer than three distinct types arose, 
presumably corresponding to as many different influences exerted 
by the peoples who early occupied the coimtry. No examination 
whatever of primitive units of measurement will here be at- 
tempted, and types of settlement will receive consideration only 
in so far as they influenced the size of township fields. The 
structure of viUages, a subject which may yet contribute to the 
writing of early English history, is worthy of an independent 

If we ask what data are available for a description of the types 
of English field systems, we find that these vary from century to 
century. The meagre references in the charters of the Anglo- 
Saxon period barely indicate the existence of open arable fields, 
without teUing the form which they assumed. Only from the 
end of the twelfth century is the evidence, still brief, at all definite 
on this point. At that time charters and feet of fines begin, 
though rarely,* to describe in«detail the lands which they transfer 
by mentioning areas of parceb and locations in fields (campi) 
and furlongs (culturae). After the middle of the thirteenth 
century the fines cease to be specific, thenceforth reciting 
simply the acres of arable (terra), meadow, and pasture with 
which they are concerned; the charters continue to give detailed 
descriptions imtil the middle of the fourteenth century, when 
they too for the most part become formal arid jejime. 

(Cambridge Antiq. Soc., Octavo PMicatianSf no. zxxvii, Cambridge, 1913), Intro- 
duction. Cf. below, p. 409. 

^ From this view Meitzen (Siedelung und Agrarwesen, ii. 122) vaguely dissents, 
on the ground that the type of settlement in Kent and elsewhere was Celtic. Gay 
(** Indosures in England," pp. 593-594) suggests that differing forms of agricidtural 
practice characterized England from an early period, and Conner (Common Land 
and Indosure, p. 125) mentions the possibility. 

' Perhaps once in a hundred times. 


Of far less value than the charters are the manorial extents. 
Drawn up in considerable numbers in the late thirteenth and early 
fourteenth centuries, and for the most part embedded in inqui- 
sitions post mortem, these docimients do not locate the acres of 
the tenants' holdings in the fields. Occasionally the demesne 
arable is so described as to show that it lay in a two-field or a 
three-field township, or was consolidated; but more often it is 
said to lie '' in " several cidturae, a phrase which leaves us im- 
certain whether the culturae were open-field furlongs comi>osed of 
strips or were block-like subdivisions of a consolidated demesne. 
At times the extents refer to the manner of tilling the demesne; 
but the implication of such evidence for the history of field sys- 
tems is imcertain and the interpretation of it difficult.^ 

More serviceable than the extents are the terriers, which ap- 
pear in increasing numbers from the fifteenth century to the end 
of the seventeenth. These detailed descriptions of one or more 
holdings in a township continue the tradition of the most valua- 
ble of the fines and charters in tending, like them, to describe 
freeholds and copyholds rather than demesne. Especially in the 
seventeenth century are they useful in telling us whether a town- 
ship was open or enclosed and, if open, what sort of field system 
it employed. 

The obvious defect of all the above-mentioned docimients lies 
in the fragmentary nature of the information which they contain : 
nowhere do they furnish a complete and specific description of 
the fields of an entire township. Complete descriptions are to be 
had, it seems, in only three classes of documents. Two of these 
are late — the enclosure awards of the eighteenth and nineteenth 
centuries and the tithe maps posterior to 1836. The awards 
themselves, though dealing with entire townships, often omit 
much through their indifference to old enclosures, and frequently 
they contain no more than casual references to the condition of 
that open field the disappearance of which they record. They 
are intent upon becoming authorities for the future rather than 
sources of information about the past. With the tithe maps and 
accompanying schedules, which also deal with entire townships, 

* Cf. bdow, pp. 43-46, 321. 


it is diflferent. These pictiire exactly the condition of township 
fields at the time when the rating was made; but, unfortunately 
for the subject in hand, that time is usually so late that the old 
field system of the township had already been much trans- 
formed. The maps are likely to show considerable arable en- 
dosed and novel field systems in use. Had the tithe maps been 
made in the middle of the eighteenth century, they would have 
been a boon to the student; dating as they do from the middle 
of the nineteenth, they are of only occasional assistance. 

A third class of documents, most valuable of all for the pur- 
poses of this study, are the manorial siu^eys (supervisus) and 
field-books * of Tudor and early Stuart days.* Their complete- 
ness and detail, so far as field conditions are concerned, render 
them a desirable starting-point for any excursus into earlier 
or later agrarian history. To interpret the more fragmentary 
material of an earlier time they can be used with particular 

A word should be added regarding township maps other than 
tithe maps. The earliest of them date from the late sixteenth 
century and for graphic illustration surpass the siurveys. When, 
however, a township comprised two or more manors, as was usu- 
ally the case in the southeast, the map often worked out detailed 
areas for only one manor, merely sketching in the remainder of 
the township. Such maps are properly akin to terriers rather 
than to surveys. The rarer ones of the true survey tsrpe, giving 
areas of all strips and plats, were probably made to accompany 
field-books, as was the excellent one drafted for Sir Edward Coke 
in i6oi.* 

^ Often calling themselves terriers^ or draggae. 

s Documents of this sort were first described by W. J. Corbett ('* Elizabethan 
Village Surveys,'' Royal Hist. Soc., Trans., new series, 1897, xi. 67-S7), most of those 
dted relating to Norfolk. Recently there has been printed for the Roxburghe 
Qub an excellent series of Wiltshire surveys, entitled Survey of the Lands of WUliam, 
First Earl of Pembroke^ ed. C. R. Straton, 2 vols., Oxford, 1909. These and 
others like them have been successfully utilized for writing the social history of 
the sixteenth century by R. H. Tawney, The Agrarian Problem in the Sixteenth 
Century, London, 191 2. 

* The Weasenham field-book of 42 Elizabeth, with two maps, preserved in the 
Holkham MSS. 


In the following chapters the plan has been to seek first the 
characteristics of the field system of a region in those descrip- 
tions which, though relatively late, are most nearly complete. 
Such are the enclosure awards and maps of the eighteenth and 
nineteenth centuries, and particularly the surveys of Tudor and 
Stuart times. Earlier evidence is then adduced to discover 
whether the thirteenth-century situation was a prototype of that 
of the eighteenth century, or whether there had been change. 
Before the thirteenth century we shall be on conjectural groimd, 
but some guesses may be hazarded. 

This method of trying to ascertain early conditions largely 
through the use of late evidence is not without danger, and from 
its ill effects neither Seebohm's nor Meitzen's works are free. 
Yet there seems to be no other way of approaching clearly the 
subject in hand, while it is often only by the aid of late survivals 
that the earlier phenomena can be interpreted at all. The method 
is therefore adopted with full consciousness of its shortcomings, 
particularly of the restriction which demands that the projection 
of any situation into the past be accompanied with provisos. In 
particular we must not forget that the testimony which survives 
is only a small fraction of what once existed and what would alone 
insure certainty. As we approach earlier times our account of 
the situation must tend to become less of an exposition and more 
of an argtunent. We can no longer say, " The evidence tells us 
thus and so *'; we are forced to plead, " Since this was true at a 
later time and the scanty earlier testimony is in accord with it, 
may not the known facts be projected into the unknown and 
imrecorded past ? " Constructive argument and fragmentary 
testimony thus to a large extent become the basis for a description 
of early agrarian conditions; but the validity of argument and 
conclusion may at any moment be tested by the reader who has 
the known facts before him. 


The Two and Three-Field System 

TworiELD townships left one-half of their arable fallow each 
year, three-field townships one-third of it. Apart from this the 
method of tillage employed by both groups was essentially the 
same and may for the present be called the two- and three-field 
system. The characteristics of this system have in a general way 
long been known. No one, however, has ascertained in precisely 
what way it differed from other field systems, at what time we 
first get sight of it in England, in what parts of the island it was 
then to be found, what irregularities it began in course of time to 
manifest, and what was the history of its last years. This chapter 
and the three following ones are designed to throw light on these 

It is well first of all to determine the fundamental characteris- 
tics of the system. Seebohm's description of Hitchin, based 
upon the tithe map of 1816 and giving p>erhaps our most concrete 
picture of a township under a three-field system, is after all not 
quite complete or accurate. That there were six fields makes 
little difference, since we know from a court roll that the six were 
grouped by twos for a three-course rotation of crops. That in 
one of these fields 48 owners together held 289 parcels of land, 
each having from one to 38 parcels, is completely deduced from 
the schedule of the tithe map. Nothing, however, is advanced 
to show that these 48 owners held corresponding areas in other 
fields. The map in which the author represents the " normal 
virgate or yard-land " is, so far as we can see, imaginary.^ The 
insertion of a fourteenth-century description of a virgate at 
Winslow, furthermore, is ingeniously contrived to lead the reader 
to think that its details applied as well to a Hitchin virgate in 
181 6; but it will be noticed that the Winslow terrier does not 
divide its parcek between two or three or six fields. Seebohm 

^ English ViUage Comrnunity, p. 27, map 4. The virgate, as will be explained, 
was the full-sized holding of a villein or customaiy tenant. 



has, in short, grafted the parcek of a virgate of the time of Edward 
in, the relation of which to '' fields " remains uncertain, upon a 
nineteenth-century tithe ms^, which has the equivalent of three 
fields, but fields in which we do not know the distribution of the 
strips of the several owners.* Everything at Hitchin may, of 
coiu-se, have been as one is led to infer. The holdings may have 
consisted of scattered parceb equally divided among three pairs 
of fields; the existence of six fields, indeed, makes this probable, 
or at least makes it probable that such had once been the case. 
Yet proof of these facts should not be omitted in the description 
and definition of a typical three-field township. There are in- 
stances of townships which had three fields but in which a three- 
field system did not prevail.* 

To repair the shortcomings of the Hitchin illustration, and to 
amplify the description of a type of open field which was im- 
doubtedly once widespread in England, it may be permissible to 
summarize conditions in certain typical two-field and three-field 
townships chosen from different counties. In order to make the 
foundation sure, complete accounts of townships are desirable; 
and these must, for the most part, be sought for in surveys of the 
late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries or in later records. 

Since pictorial illustration, as Seebohm knew, is more readily 
comprehensible than written documents, his happy example may 
be followed and a tithe map first reproduced. That of a town- 
ship in eastern Oxfordshire answers the purpose. The village of 
Chalgrove lies precisely within the area where in 1808 Arthur 
Young noted the continuance of a three-course husbandry.' The 
tithe apportionment of the township was fixed in 1841 , just before 
its enclosure in 1845; ^nd the map, which is here sketched,* in- 
dicates all parceb, the areas and tenants being specified in a 

^ An insert to the Hitchin mi^ does, to be sure, show the scattered strips of 
William Lucas, Esq., but without areas. * Cf. p. 314, below. 

* View of the A gricuUure of Oxfordshire (London, 1809), p. 1 27. Cf . p. 1 24, below. 

* Owing to the reduction in scale, the number of strips in each f uriong is not so 
great as in the original, which measures some six feet by seven. The large irreg- 
ular blocks of the old enclosures are also not shown; but no other important 
details are omitted. The map is dqM>sited with the Board of Agriculture in St. 
James Square. 


The area of Chalgrove in 1841 was 2358 acres. Two-thirds of 
this area was arable, nearly one-fifth meadow and pasture.^ 
Much of the latter lay enclosed in three farms, which were situated 
to the north between the open fields and the common of 140 acres. 
Probably the farms had at some time been improved from the 
waste, with perhaps some encroachment upon the ^common arable 
fields. When the map was made, however, these fields seem to 
have been nearly intact. They consisted of about two thousand 
long narrow " lands " or selions, each containing usually from one- 
fourth of an acre to one acre.^ Several parallel lands constituted 
a furlong or shot, and there were about one hundred furlongs in 
the township. These differed in shape and size, both featiures 
depending largely upon the contoiu: of the land. In consequence 
the strips varied in length; but a desire to limit their length seems 
manifest in the frequent appearance side by side of two furlongs 
the strips of which ran in the same direction. In general the 
length of a '' land " did not exceed that of the English standard 
acre (forty rods or poles) , and there was an imdoubted tendency 
on the part of the acre parcels to conform roughly to the shape 
of the standard acre. Their breadth thus became one-tenth of 
their length, that of half-acre parcek one-twentieth, and that of 
quarter-acres one-fortieth. In other field docimients short strips 
and subdivided strips are often called butts, while triangular or 
irregular parcek at the end of a furlong are called gores. The 
map shows the lands of two adjacent furlongs frequently at right 
angles to one another. In such cases that strip of one furlong 
upon which the strips of the other abutted served as a turning- 
ground for the plough when the abutting strips were ploughed, 
and was called a headland. The lands numbered 755 and 1751 
on the accompanying plan are designated in the schedule as head- 
lands, their situation being that just described. 

A stream formed part of the northern boimdary of the town- 
ship, and another traversed it near the village. Some of the 

^ The schedule appended to the map subtracts the glebe and gives areas m acres 
as fdlows: arable land, 1620; meadow and pasture land, 431; wood land, 8; com- 
mon land (i. e., the common pasture, or waste), 140; homesteads, 48; glebe, 69; 
roads and wastes, 42. 

' Cf. the following terrier, p. 22, below. 



water from the latter was diverted to flow along the village street, 
rejoining the main brook near the church. Beside both streams 
were the short strips of meadow which were never ploughed and 
were elsewhere often called dales. Between the homesteads and 
the stream were the home closes (" homestalls," " garths," 
" backsides.") 

Thus far the above description might well apply to many an 
open-field township which was by no means cultivated in accord- 
ance with the principles of the two- and three-field system. The 
characteristic feature of the latter was the further grouping of the 
furlongs into two, three, four, or six large fields. At Chalgrove 
there were two groups of fields. The fields of the smaller group 
to the south of the village are designated in the tithe schedule 
Langdon, Middle Langdon, and Lower Langdon. With these 
went certain furlongs toward the northwest, and within them lay 
much freehold. Indeed, it is not certain that so late as 1841 they 
were tilled in a strictly three-field manner. To the northeast 
of the village lay those fields among which the copyholds, the 
glebe, and certain freeholds were divided. They were without 
doubt the old three fields of the township, and in 1841 were known 
as Solinger field, Houndswell field, and Sand field. They ad- 
joined one another and were similar in extent. At the western 
end of Houndswell field lay two small " fields " named Bower 
End and Upper End, both pretty clearly appendant to Hoimds- 
well field but probably deriving independent names from their 
proximity to parts of the viUage called Bower End and Upper 

How the customary holdings were related to the fields is shown 
by the following description, transcribed from the schedule.* 
Since this copyhold of John Jones was similar to the glebe and to 
several other copyholds, it may be taken as typical of early con- 
ditions. Although the schedule does not use the term virgate or 
yard-land, often applied in other docimients to customary hold- 
ings, the size of this copyhold is about that of the normal virgate, 
and not improbably represented such a holding: — 

^ Tithe sdiedule, p. la. 



John Jones. -^ Copyhold tor uves under the Pkeshient and 
OP Saint Mary Ma(h>alene College, Otcford 

No. on 

the Map Bownt End Fielo 

435 One Land in Acre Hedge Furiong Arable 

Ufpbk End Fiklo 

548 One Land in Harpes End Furlong '' 

553 One Land in Harpes End Furlong " 

Sand Field 

574 One Yard in Lank Fuiiong " 

605 One acre in Lank Furlong " 

612 One Land in Lank Furlong *' 

615 One Land in Setts Furlong " 

688 One Acre in Little Pry Furlong " 

690 One Acre in Little Pry Furlong " 

739 One Land in Short Furlong " 

752 Two acres in Short Furlong " 

755 One Headacre Land Shooting on Chiswell Common ** 

765 One Land in Great Pry Furlong " 

786 One acre in Great Pry Furlong " 

843 Two Lands in Pry Little Furlong " 

907 One Acre in Bowsprit Furlong " 


looi One acre in Hayes End Furlong " 

1092 One Land in Houndswell Furlong " 

1226 One acre in Short Furlong " 

1235 One acre in Short Furlong " 

1254 One Land in Short Furlong " 

1 265 One Land in Little Bushes or Rushy Furrows Furlong . . " * 

1275 One Land in ditto " 

1287 One Land in ditto " 

1294 One Land in ditto " 

1304 One Land in ditto " 

SouNGEE Field 

1429 One Land in Long Lands '* 

1446 One Land in Down Furlong " 

i486 Two Lands shooting on Oxford Way " 

1517 One Land in White Lands " 

1529 Two Lands in ditto " 

1543 One Land in Easington Hedge Furlong " 

1561 One Land in Easington Hedge Furlong '* 

1627 One Land in Woodlands '' 

1633 One Land in Woodlands " 

1661 One Land in Rood Furlong " 

1665 One Land in Lower Woodlands " 

1693 One Land in Upper Woodlands " 

1705 Two Lands in Marsh Furlong " 

1733 One Land in Long Snapper Furlong '^ 

1 751 Headland and Fellow in Long Snapper Furlong '' 
















3 30 





I I 






























































21 3 39 


It will be noticed that the parcels were distributed with con- 
siderable equality among the three fields. Solinger field received 
jl acres in 15 parcels, Sand field 9 acres in 13 parceb, Hounds- 
well field (with Bower End and Upper End fields) 5! acres in 
13 parcels. Were the terrier of an earlier date, the irregularity 
in apportionment would, as will appear elsewhere, probably have 
been less. The areas assigned to the parcels show approxima- 
tions to acre, half-acre, and quarter-acre strips; and the locations 
(nimibers on the map correspond with mmibers in the schedule) 
illustrate the scattering of the strips throughout the fields and 
furlongs. Late though the Chalgrove map and terrier be, they 
enable us to form a correct and vivid idea of the fundamental 
characteristics of the three-field system and prepare us to inter- 
pret earlier evidence not made gr^hic by contemporary maps. 

As pointed out in the Introduction, the most comprehensive 
and satisfactory descriptions of English townships are the surveys 
of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. At their best 
these note nearly everything that one could wish to know about 
the manors or townships to which they refer. The metes and 
bounds, the area of the demesne with its location and the terms 
upon which it was leased, the number of the freeholders and copy- 
holders, the holdings of each, the rents, fines, and heriots paid, the 
parcels of land enclosed and in open field, the nature of these, 
whether arable, meadow, or pasture, the names of the conunon 
fields and meadows, — all this, in the most extended of the sur- 
veys, a sworn jury of the villagers was called upon to report. The 
monasteries seem to have originated the custom of making such 
surveys, for some of the earliest are found in their cartularies of 
the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries ; but the administrators of 
crown property proved apt pupils, and the most elaborate rqports 
are those relative to crown estates or to manors temporarily in 
royal hands. During the sixte^ith century the latter, of coiurse, 
included many monastic properties. 

So long are the best surveys that it is impracticable to make 
extended transcripts from them. The information touching field 
systems is, furthermore, so interwoven with other detail that it 
is not readily comprehensible unless rearranged and adapted. 


For these reasons it seems desirable to print in exknso ex- 
tracts from two surveys, tyi^cal respectively of two-field and 
three-field townships, and to follow these with pertinent field 
matter abstracted from other surveys. Such is the content of 
Appendix I. 

If there was a difference in the antiquity of two-field and three- 
field townships, no one will doubt that the former were the earlier. 
Apart from any question of age, however, the simpler system calls 
logically for prior treatment. In an excellent series of surveys of 
the Glastonbury manors in Wiltshire we find pictured the condi- 
tion of several two-field townships as they were in 9 Henry VIII.^ 
The descriptions are particularly minute, the location and area 
of open-field parcek being always stated. The survey of South 
Damerham, one of the longest, has been printed by R. C. Hoare 
in his History of Modem Wiltshire; * but so inaccessible is this 
bulky work that it will not be amiss to transcribe a part of the 
survey of Kington, another of the Wiltshire manors.' 

After the introduction, the rubric for metes and bounds, and 
the description of the demesne, this survey makes note of one 
of the important features of an old English township. It is the 
common. That of Kington, called Langley Heath, embraced 
310 acres, and over it lord and tenants had common of pasture for 
all cattle throughout the year. In this there was nothing pecu- 
liar to a two- or a three-field village. Quite apart from the char- 
acter of its early fields, nearly every township had such a conunon 
and the tenants had rights therein. It would have been more 
pertinent had we been told about pasturage rights over the com- 
mon fields; but on that point this survey, like many others, is 

The free tenants at Kington were four and most of their hold- 
ings were small. Only one held a virgate and paid so much as 
five shillings rent. One of them was Malmesbury Abbey and an- 
other the Prioress of Kington, each answerable for a messuage or 
two. Similarly John Saunders held in fee a tenement, rendering 
therefor two geese yearly. The insignificance of the freeholds 

1 Had. MS. 3961. * Cf. Appendix I, bdow. 

' (6 vols., London, 1822-44), Appendix 11, pp. 40-64. 


and the personal distinction of certain of the freeholders are char- 
acteristics that will recur. 

The customary tenants, or copyholders, on the contrary, were 
numerous and their holdings were considerable. Six were pos- 
sessed each of two virgates or " half-hides," seventeen of one 
virgate, twelve of <me-half virgate, and there were two cottagers, 
each with three or four acres. Besides the two cotlands, six 
typical holdings have been transcribed,^ all lowing similar 
characteristics. To each copyholder was assigned a messuage, a 
yard, a garden, and sometimes an orchard, together with a few 
closes held in severalty. At Kington the enclosures were larger 
than in most townships, comprising in general from five to ten 
acres. After an accoimt of these, we reach in each case the bulk 
of the holding. This was arable, and for the virgatarius (the 
tenant of a virgate) contained about twenty acres. The dimidii 
kidarii (tenants of two virgates) had some forty acres each, the 
dimidii virgaiarii about ten. The arable of each holding, except 
the last half-virgate, lay in two fields, usually called the North 
field and the West field, such being the situation of the two rela- 
tive to the village.* Between the two fields the arable of the vir- 
gates was pretty equally divided (e. g., lo acres vs, i)\ acres) ; in 
some of the larger holdings, however, the lion's share went to the 
North field (26^ acres vs. 20 acres, 24 acres vs. ig\ acres).* The 
parcels ranged in size from one-foiurth acre (perticata) to two 
acres, most of them being either half-acres or quarter-acres. A 
virgate comprised from forty to sixty such parcels. Often more 
than one parcel of a holding lay in the same furlong. The re- 
currence of fwrlong names in the various holdings shows inter- 
mixed ownership. There is in the survey nothing about the 
shape of the parcels, but it is safe to assume that where several 
acre and half-acre parcels lay in the same f \irlong they were long 
and narrow. 

> In Appendix I. The ficst two or three of each size have been selected. 

* In the first holding East field repUces North field; but, as certain of the 
furiong names are those of North-fidd furlongs, the East and North fields can- 
not have be^n distinct. 

* The last half-virgater held, along with his half-vizgate, some twenty acres of 
demesne^ which lay mainly in the East field. 



Since no plan of Kington is available, the appearance of a 
two-field township may be illustrated by the enclosure map of 
Croxton, Lincolnshire.^ As the accompanjdng cut diows, this 
rectangular township was in 1810 divided by the highway into an 
East field and a West field, while to the north lay the sheep-walk. 

Sketch of the Bnoloture Map of the 
Towmhip of Orozton, lincolnihlre. 1810. 



Map m 

Adjacent to the viUage on the southeast were a few doses, appar- 
ently taken from the moor. The two arable fields remained 
nearly intact and were similar in size. If in imagination we fill 
them with furlongs and strips, the plan will represent not inade- 
quately the situation described in the Kington survey. 

Between two- and three-field townships, as has been said, there 
was no essential difference in principle. The one divided its 

* C P. Recov. Ro., 52 Geo. Ill, Trin. 


arable between two large fields, the other among three. The 
fcHiner tilled one-half of 'the arable each year, the latter two- 
thirds, the parts which remained fallow being respectively one- 
half and one-third. In consequence ol having an additional field, 
the three-field township subdivided each copyhold into three ap- 
proximately equal parts. This feature is emphasized in another 
survey, abstracts from which follow the Elington descriptions in 
Appendix I. 

Handborough in central Oxfordshire is a large township which 
from the thirteenth century has formed a part of the manor of 
Woodstock.^ In 1606 it was surveyed as royal property, and the 
resultant supemsus is an excellent illustration of the work of the 
royal commissioners. The freeholders, who were of the curious 
sort said to hold " libere per copiam," were much more numerous 
than the freeholders at Kington. About fifty are named. The 
two who held most land were persons of quality, viz., George Cole, 
Gent., with three messuages and 11^ acres, and the heirs of M. 
Culpepper, Kt., with two messuages and 16} acres. In both 
instances most of the acres did not lie in the open fields, and an- 
other freehold of ten acres was partly woodland. Sometimes the 
freeholder was without a messuage, and he might also, as inspec- 
tion shows, be a copyholder (in the strict sense of the term) who, 
in addition to a substantial copyhold, held a small parcel of land 
freely. Such was Roger Brooke, the first on the list. For the 
most part, however, the " liberi tenentes per copiam " were per- 
sons who held merely a messuage and a small close or parcel of 
land attached. The entire fifty had not a dozen acres in the open 
fields, and in no instance was there a distribution of acres among 
fields. At Handborough, as at Kington, the holdings of free 
tenants are of little value for the study of field systems. 

With the customary holdings the case is strikingly different. 
Almost every one of these supplies information about the open 
fields. There were forty customary tenements held by thirty-six 
persons, all t^iements except three having messuages. Apart 
from a half-dozen instances the virgate equivalent of the acreage 

1 A. Ballard, " Woodstock Manor in the Thirteenth Century/' Vierkljahrschrifi 
far Sowial-und WirischafisgeschkkU, 1908, vi. 424. 



is given. Each of three tenants held one and one-half virgates, 
ten others a virgate apiece, the remainder for the most part half a 
virgate apiece. The normal virgate comprised three or four acres 
in the common meadow, from five to ten acres of enclosed land, 
and between seven and ten acres in each of three common arable 
fields. Often the arable acres of the holdings were almost exactly 
divided among the three fields (lo, lo, 8; 4, 5, 4J; 3, 3!, 3J). At 
times, however, there were discrepancies which might give to one 
field as many as five or six acres more than to another (15, 9, 9; 
6i, "i, 7; i, 3, li)- The number of parcels into which the arable 
was divided is not stated, as it usually is not in the surveys of 
Jacobean days. On the other hand, we are told more about the 
common meadows than at Elington, and learn that each holding 
had half-acre or quarter-acre parcels in them. There is further 
an obvious intention to give information about the pasturage 
rights of the customary tenants. Nearly always occurs the ab- 
breviation " communia pasture ut supra." But we refer back in 
vain; for either a folio is gone, or, as is more likely, the folios as 
they stand at present have been incorrectly rearranged. Toward 
the end of the survey descriptions of three holdings specify com- 
mon of pasture " in omnibus Campis, etc.," " in omnibus Com- 
muniis, etc.," and "in Einsham heath and Kinges Heath." * The 
first statement, to the effect that there was common of pasture 
in all fields {campus is the usual term for arable field), undoubt- 
edly represents the existent rights. 

The somewhat full extracts from the surveys of EJngton and 
Handborough will perhaps serve to make clear the nature of our 
most detailed evidence about English field systems.* For 
specific and decisive pronouncements Tudor and Jacobean sur- 
veys will continually have to be relied upon, and in the light of 
what they reveal the earlier testimony from many regions of 

. ^ Cf. Ai^>endiz I, bdow, pp. 434-436. 

' In one respect the Handborough situation was somewhat unusual. The 
demesne was farmed, not to two or three or a half-dozen lessees in large parcels, but 
to some thirty-six persons, nearly all customary tenants. These leaseholds usually 
comprised less than ten acres each, and frequently lay outside the three common fidds 
in areas called the Great Hide and the Little Hide. The title was " per copiam/' 
and the tenure seems very like copyhold of inheritance. 


En^and will have to be interpreted. At this point it is there- 
fore pertinent to inquire what counties can furnish two- and three- 
field surveys like those above examined; for an answer to this 
question will indicate roughly the extent of the system at the end 
of the sixteenth century. 

It is clear that not every holding in a township need be in- 
stanced to prove that the arable lay in two or three large open 
fields. It is equally clear that freeholds, by reason of their small- 
ness, their irregularity, and the social status of their proprietors, 
were unrepresentative. Descriptions of copyholds, on the other 
hand, nearly always reflect a two- or three-field system by the 
approximately equal distribution of their arable between two or 
three fields; hence ten or a dozen such descriptions from a town- 
ship will suffice to inform us of the field arrangements existing 
there. Adaptations of this sort .have been made from several 
surveys and arranged in Api>endix I to show the extension of 
the system illustrated by the surveys of Kington and Hand- 

Tudor and Jacobean surveys of two-field manors most often 
come from the upland region which begins with the northern 
Cotswolds and extends to the Channel. Traversing it in this 
manner, we start with a long Jacobean survey of Upi>er and 
Nether Brailes, a township of southeastern Warwickshire. The 
holdings are estimated in virgates of from eight to twenty acres, 
all oi them divided with precision between North field and South 
field. There were practically no enclosures save the acre or two 
attached to each messuage, but there was consideotble meadow, 
some five acres being appurtenant to the virgate. The tenants 
had stinted conmion of pasture in as many as nine pastures. 

On the eastern slopes of the Cotswolds, just over Itom Brailes, 
were many two-field Oxfordshire townships, well illustrated by 
Shipton-under-Wychwood, a survey of which was made in 6 
Edward VI. The customary holdings here usually formed con- 
siderable farms of more than one virgate each, the virgate itself 
containing as many as forty acres. To each farm were attached a 

^ Tlie sources from which they are drawn are noted in each case, and the town- 
ships to which they refer are located on the map which faces the title-page. 


small close and a few acres of meadow. In half of the customary 
holdings the division of arable acres between the East and West 
fields was equal ; in the odier half there was some inequality, 
usually in favor of the East field. 

Two monastic manors of the Gloucestershire Cotswolds, Charl- 
ton Abbots and Weston Birt, were surveyed with many others in 
the time of Edward VI. In both the virgat^ were large, con- 
taining in one township 48 acres of arable and in the other about 
40 acres. The division of acres between the North field and the 
East field of Charlton was even, between the North field and the 
South field of Weston Birt nearly even. In neither township did 
the copyholds have other closes than those near the village. With 
each virgate at Charlton went nine acres in the common meadow, 
with a virgate at Weston Birt seldom so much as an acre. 

The extension of the Cotswold area into Somerset brings us, a 
little south from Bath, to South Stoke, which in 6 James I was 
surveyed as one of the queen's manors. Here the enclosures were 
larger, containing from ten to twenty acres in each holding. Occa- 
sionally they had encroached upon the common arable fields, as 
had those of Lawrence Smythe and Thomas Hudd. Such at 
least seems to be the inference, since except in these instances 
the arable was assigned in nearly equal parts to the East and West 
fields. The meadow, too, had been enclosed. Thus, although 
the township was obviously one of two fields, there had already 
begtm an attack upon the integrity of the system which we shall 
see farther advanced in most townships of Somerset. 

In the large Dorsetshire township of Gillingham the same 
change was imder way in 6 James I. It had here gone so far that 
inequality in the division of the arable of a holding betweoi the 
two fields was frequent. In some holdings meadow and pasture 
even predominated over the arable; but the general apportion- 
ment of the latter to the two fields. South and North,* leaves no 
doubt that a two*field system is described. 

Such are typical surveys from six of the'coimties in which the 
two-field system was most often apparent. . Berkshire, perhaps 
more extejnsively characterized by two-field townships than any 

I A third unimportant field occasionally i^pears. 


of them, should be added to the list. The Glastonbury manor of 
Ashbury was in Berkshire, and of this we have a survey similar 
in date and character to that of Kington, described above.^ The 
upland parts of these seven counties form a compact area in the 
southwest, characterized by high, bleak down-land not favorable 
to a developed type of agriculture. Hence in this region the two- 
field system lingered, little changed, at least until the seventeenth 
century. We shall see that it was, as might be expected, the 
prevalent type there at an early date. 

There were two outlying areas in which at the end of the six- 
teenth century it was possible to find two-field townships as un- 
changed as in the Cotswold counties. One such township was 
Wellow, in the Isle of Wight. Here, in a Jacobean survey, the 
customary holdings divided their arable with great consistency 
and considerable equality between an East field and a West field.* 
Such siirveys from the Isle of Wight are, however, so infrequent 
that a two-field system can hardly be said to have retained much 
hold upon the island in the days of James I. 

It was different with the other outlying area, the so-called wolds 
of Lincolnshire, where two-field townships were as strongly in- 
trenched as in the Cotswolds or the Wiltshire downs. The Jaco- 
bean surveys of Humberston and Alvingham have been chosen 
for illustration. Both townships had an East field and a West 
field, and both divided the tenants' arable with marked precision 
between the two. There was considerable common meadow at 
Humberston, at Alvingham rather more enclosed pastiu-e. In all 
resi>ects the townships were of the strictly two-field type. 

To show how often the three-field system is apparent in 
Tudor and Jacobean surveys a longer list of counties than the 
one just given is required. Among the counties where it 
rivalled the two-field system were some in which the Cotswold 
highlands gave place here and there to more fertile areas. Such 
was Oxfordshire, which has already furnished us the siirvey of 
Handborough. Such was Warwickshire throughout most of the 
valley of the Avon. Such too were the three counties of the south- 

' Hari. MS. 3961, £f. 117^133. The fidds were East and West. 
' Cf . Appendix I, below, p. 440. 


west from each (rf which an ezamide of the two-fidd system has 
been drawn, Wiltsbire, Soma:set, and Dorset. It will be in- 
structive to parallel the two-fidd surveys already examined with 
those {HCturing three-field arrangements in these last three 

In southeastern ScHnerset, where the hiDs give way to the great 
plain, lies the large manor of Martock, surveyed in i~2 Philip 
and Mary. Four towndiq)s were included, Martock, Hurst, Cote, 
and Bower Henton, and each of the four had its independent 
group of three fields. Ten of the twentyniine o^yhokls at Bower 
Henton are summarized in Appendix I. Each comprised a mes- 
suage, a smaU close, and an amount of enclosed pasture about 
equal in area to the arable lying in any one of the three fields. 
Frequently the survey notes that the enclosure of the pasture 
was recent. Each aq)yholder had also from four to wi acres of 
common meadow. The remainder of his holding was arable, 
divided with little variation among the South, East, and West 
fields. The recurrence of this characteristic, reproduced as it is 
in the other townships of the manor, fixes the three-field S3rstem 
upon southeastern Somerset. But the manor was somewhat of 
an outpost, and we shall not find much similar evidence west of 

Over the county border in Dorset, however, the survey can be 
matched by a similar one descriptive of Hinton St. Mary in the 
reign of Elizabeth. Here the enclosures were even more exten- 
sive than at Bower Henton, and nearly equalled the area of the 
open field. Some tenants had enclosures only; but most of them 
continued to have at least half of their acres in the common arable 
fields, distributed, though not very evenly, between North field. 
South field,. and West field. 

Not dissimilar is the long Jacobean survey of the Wiltshire 
manor of Ashton Keynes. In it the holdings are estimated in 
virgates, a drannstance which assures us that they had a long 
tradition behind them. About one-third of the total copyhold 
land was enclosed and was largely pasture. Some closes had re- 
sulted from encroachments upon the arable fields, the holdings of 

^ Copylurfds from all the surveys about to be dted are tabulated in Appendix I. 


Joanna Archard and Joanna Syninge having thus decreased con- 
siderably their acreage in the East field. Elsewhere, although the 
distribution of the acres of a holding between East field, North 
field, and Westham was not so precise as in many townships, 
discrepancies are not great enough to call in question the 
existence of a three-field husbandry. 

If we make an excursion from the southwestern counties toward 
the east and north, we shall enter the less disputed domain of the 
three-field s)rstem. Hampshire and Sussex contribute two excel- 
lent terrier-surveys of Battle Abbey manors made in the early 
years of Henry VI. Like the Glastonbury series, they describe 
each open-field parcel, and the number of these has been indi- 
cated in parentheses in the brief summaries given in Appendix I. 
The small manor of Ansty lay in northeastern Hampshire, and 
its fields bore the conventional names of South, Middle, and 
East. The holdings were not estimated by virgates, but nearly 
every one, except those held at the will of the lord, had its mes- 
suage or toft. A few were small, but even these contained an acre 
or more in each field. It is in two or three of the larger holdings 
that some unequal distribution appears, an inequality which, so 
far as we can see, was not compensated for by the possession of en- 
dosed arable. Such occasional deviations from the general prac- 
tice should not be taken as evidence that a township did not fall 
within the three-field group. They remind us, rather, that de- 
scriptions of several holdings are often needed to give assurance in 
these matters. 

The Sussex survey describes the manor of Alciston as it was 
subdivided into '' borga," a term apparently implying distinct 
townships. Two of the borga were Blatchington and Alfriston, 
alike in their field arrangements, of which the descriptions of a 
half-dozen copyholds and two demesne leaseholds at Alfriston 
are illustrative. In these we are introduced to a new terminology. 
Instead of virgates we meet with '' wistae," instead of fields with 
'' leynes." Both terms were peculiar to Sussex and occur often 
in the Battle cartulary. Each wista contained about eighteen 
acres, and the assignment of its acre and half-acre strips to the 
three leynes, North, Middle, and South, was on the principle of 


exact division. Since Alfriston and Blatchington are at the east- 
em end of the Sussex coastal plain, the three-field system reached 
at least thus far. Just as the manor of Martock in Somerset, 
however, was a western outpost, so these townships of the manor 
of Aldston will prove to be points beyond which it is difficult 
to discover the existence of the three-field system in southeastern 

Turning northward, we may add to the description of Hand- 
borough briefer accounts of two manors which, like it, lay in the 
southern midlands. At the end of the sixteenth century there 
were drawn up for All Souls College, Oxford, maps of its estates 
in various counties. These are now bound together in volumes 
known as the Typus Collegii.^ Among them is a map of Salford, 
Bedfordshire, accompanied by a schedule which gives names of 
tenants and areas of the parcels shown on the map. Apart from 
the glebe and three other small freeholds, the township is assigned 
to the " tenants of the college grounds." Chief of these was 
Martha Langford, who had i6o acres of arable and 112 acres of 
pasture, all enclosed. This was clearly the old demesne. The 
other tenants represented the old copyholders. In general each 
had a few acres of enclosed pasture, a few of '' pasture and lea 
ground " not farther described, and a few of " meadow in the 
fields." But the most of each holding lay in the three open arable 
fields in many parcels.* Brooke, Middle, and Wood were the 
names of the fields, two of them persisting to the time of the en- 
closure of the township in 1805. At that date Middle field had 
been subdivided into Lower and Upper fields, although the total 
open-field area remained abnost imchanged. In 1595 the sub- 
division of the holdings among the three fields was more con- 
sistently unequal than in any other survey yet examined. In the 
larger holdings fewer acres were assigned to Middle field than to 
Brook or to Wood field, apparently because the demesne arable 
lay largely in this field. Five or six of its furlongs were entirely 

^ I am indebted to the warden, Sir William Anson, and to the Rev. A. H. Johnson 
for the privilege of examining them. 

' The number of parcels in each holding is noted in the abstract given in the 
Appendix. A part of the Salford map is reproduced by Tawney, Agrarian Problem, 
p. 163. 


demesne, whereas Brook field had only one demesne furlong and 
Wood field not any. Such concentration of the arable demesne in 
furlongs, and these furlongs in one field, is unusual; but even this 
can hardly have affected seriously the three-field character of the 

A very detailed survey of the township of Welford, North- 
amptonshire, made in 1602, is preserved in an eighteenth-century 
copy in the Bodleian. The township comprised two manors, that 
of William Saimders and that of the '^ late dissolved monastery of 
Sulby,'' then the queen's. The first manor consisted of the 
demesne and the holdings of several "tenants at will"; the 
second was in the hands of " ancient freeholders," " new free- 
holders," and " the Queen's patentees," the last probably repre- 
senting the copyholders under the monastery. In Appendix I 
several holdings of three kinds have been summarized in order to 
show how various tenures fitted into the same field framework. 
The tenements were rated in virgates. There were no closes 
except the homestalls, each tenant's holding lying in the open 
fields, where were also his strips of meadow or " lay groimd." 
Among the three fields, named Hemplow, Middle, and Abbey, the 
acres of the virgates were, except in a few instances, divided with- 
out prejudice. In most respects this survey is a model one, since 
it gives the names of all furlongs, with the area and location of 
each <q>en-field strip. 

Selected holdings from four northern siirveys will complete our 
three-field itinerary. A Jacobean accoimt of Lutterworth, Lei- 
cestershire, illustrates a feature characteristic of many midland 
and northern field-books, the distribution of several parcels of 
meadow or " leys " among the arable fields. Here the tenants' 
strips of meadow, instead of being segregated near a stream, were 
diqx>sed here and there throughout the arable area. Just as at 
Welford, certain furlongs which began with arable strips ended 
with strips of " ley "; and the meadow in each field amounted to 
as much as one-third of the arable there. In other respects the 
survey is of the normal three-field type. 

RoUeston, a township of eastern Staffordshire, presents the 
novelty of six fields instead of three. In the Elizabethan survey 


the first holding groups these by twos, an arrangement that will 
be found to apply pretty well to most of the other holdings, thus 
reducing the township to one of practically three fields. In several 
instances the division of acres was not so exact as that to which 
we have been accustomed (e. g., 4J, 6, 7; 3 J, 6J, 3); jret, if all 
the holdings be considered, it will be seen that in only about one- 
fourth of them was there such inequality of division as to make 
the existence of a three-field s)rstem questionable. The remaining 
three-foiurths reassure us on this point, though Rolleston, too, was 
something of an outpost, for there were not many three-field 
townships beyond it to the northwest. 

Typical of the fields of southern Yorkshire is the Jacobean de- 
scription of Elloughton. Here the holdings were rated in ox- 
gangs, a single one of which comprised, along with some two acres 
of meadow, two or three acres in each of the three fields (South- 
east, Middle, and Milne). The township contained many hold- 
ings of about this size and character, although the oxgangs some- 
times accimiulated in the hands of one tenant to the number of 
four or more. 

In southern Durham, Jacobean surveys record several three- 
field townships, of which Ingleton was one. In none was there 
a rating by bovates, and in all the tenants held by letters patent 
rather than by copy. Each holding had its two or three acres of 
common meadow and a few additional acres of enclosed meadow. 
Some of the latter may have been abstracted from the common 
fields; for when enclosed meadow appears in a holding there is 
also some inequality in the distribution of arable acres among 
the fields. Although more remains to be said about this tendency 
in Durham, the Ingleton acres as they lay in 5 James I had not 
yet departed far from a three-field arrangement. 

From all of the counties which have thus far f lunished illustra- 
tive surveys of the two- and three-field S3^tems it would be easy 
to increase the amount of similarly indubitable evidence. There 
remains, however, one region for which the three-field testimony 
is relatively slight and for that reason deserving of careful con- 
sideration. It comprises the counties of Herefordshire and Shrop- 
shire, the greater part of the old Welsh border. As we shall see 


later, considerable irregularity is visible in the field system of 
these counties at the end of the sixteenth century.^ Hence it is 
pertinent to inquire how clearly a three-field system may be dis- 
cerned within their limits in Jacobean days. Several surveys 
need be dted,* a course the more necessary since there were few 
holdings in any township; for it is characteristic of these counties 
that the townships were only of hamlet size, and that many of 
them were grouped within one manor.* 

Perhaps the most unimpeachable testimony to the existence 
of a three-field system in Herefordshire at the end of the sixteenth 
century is discernible in a survey of the manor of Stoke Prior. 
Situated in the northern part of the county, this manor comprised 
in the days of the survey several hamlets. At Stoke itself all copy- 
holds and freeholds were apportioned to three fields, Blakardyn, 
Elford's, and Church, althou^ the acres of the last field some- 
times have to be supplied from outlying areas pretty clearly con- 
nected with it. At Risbury a more exact division of acres than 
that existing between Muston field, Mere field, and Inn field 
could not be desired. At Hennor we hear of only one tenant, a 
freeholder, whose arable acres none the less lay in three fields. 
Another Herefordshire manor whose members seem to have 
employed the three-field system was Stockton. In the hamlet of 
Stockton the number of fields was considerable, but between two 
of them, Rowley's field and Rade field, each tenant had about 
two-thirds of his acres pretty evenly divided. All the remaining 
fields may well be grouped as a third large field, playing this part 
relative to the other two. One holding, that of William Bach, 
had precisely twenty acres in each of these three areas. The 
three tenants in the hamlet of Hamnashe likewise divided their 
acres among three fields. At Kimbolton, another hamlet of the 
manor, five fields recur; but, as at Stockton, two of them are each 
as important as a combination of the other three. 

From Shropshire we have only one brief survey which illus- 
trates the three-field system. It describes four copyholds in 
the fields of Mawley and Prysley, hamlets of the manor of Cleo- 
bury. While there was much enclosed pasture here, the arable of 

^ Cf. below, pp. 93 sq, ' Cf. Appendix I. * Cf. below, pp. 95, 141. 


the holdings, two of which are said to have been virgates, lay 
equally divided among three fields. Other Shropshire evidence, 
not less convincing, is of a different nature. It appears incident 
tally in a specification of boundaries that forms part of an 
elaborate survey of Morflfe forest made in the early seventeenth 
century.^ Morffe forest, which contained 3600 acres and was 
divided into two manors known as Worfield Holme and Claverley 
Holme, lay near the Severn, between that river and the Stafford- 
shire boimdary. Common ri^ts within the forest resided in the 
townships that bordered it. In assessing these ri^ts the sur- 
vey states the areas within each township that had valid claims, 
noting which fields were arable. In several cases these fields 
were three in number, and their comparatively large size and rela- 
tively equal areas make it highly probable that they were in 
each instance the three common fields of the hamlet in question. 
The list is as follows: — 

Hamlet Areu in Acres of the Fields " onniiKm to " each Hamlet 

Bromley 104, 74, 106 

Swancote 34, 30i 34 

Hoccum Lopp 25, 27, 41, with 15 other acres in two parcels 

Bamsley 31 (Windsor field), 5, 28, $$ 

Roughton 119 (Anesdale field), 134, 103 

Wyken 49i 59, 49 

Dallicott 58,32,38 

Hopstone 20, 30, 58 (Ley field) 

34 (Snedwell), 50 (Middle fidd), 53 (Poole field) 

Aston . , 69, 48, 77 

A smaller number of the abutting townships possessed arable 
fields less regular than those noted above. They belong to a 
class, numerous in this region, which will be discussed later.* If 
we disregard this class, the foregoing list of fields seems confirma- 
tory of the surveys, and taken in conjimction with them gives 

^ Land Rev., M. B. 203, ff. 305-327. 

' Cf. pp. 93 sq.y below. The hamlets bordering upon Morffe forest which had 

irregular fields were as follows: — 

Hamlet Areas of the Fields in Acres 

Buicott 44 (Mill field), 24 (Woodcit^t field), 23 (common to Buzcott) 

70 (belooginf to Buxoott), 35 (belonging to Buicott) 

Mose 21 (Bass field), 103 (with 67 acres more) 

Sitchhouae 56, 44, 46, 13. 16 (" Utely indoied out oC Claretjr commoa field") 

Suttcm 48 (Home field), X02 

Ludstooe ; 4^, 6, 48 


assurance that the three-field system extended up to the Welsh 

After this marshalling of t3rpical Tudor and Jacobean surveys 
from several counties, it should be possible to single out the char- 
acteristic features of the two- and three-field system; for only by 
the aid of such data, as has been said above, can the earlier and 
more fragmentary evidence be interpreted. The history of 
English open fields reaches far back of the sixteenth century, and 
testimony in regard to this earlier time is at hand in the docu- 
ments described in the Introduction. A method of interpreting 
them remains to be sought. In drawing up our list of charac- 
teristic features we may treat two- and three-field arrangements 
as a single system that will in due course have to be contrasted 
with other systems. What, then, is the minimum of information 
which an early charter, fine, terrier, or extent must supply in 
order to give assurance that the township to which it refers was 
cultivated after the manner of Kington or Handborough ? 

First of aU, testimony to the existence of two or three large 
open fields (campi) is essential. If the open-field area was so 
small that the total amount of it in the tenants' occupation was 
less than their enclosures, no need existed for the cultivation of 
the arable in the manner dictated by two- or three-field hus- 
bandry. In such cases reliance could be put upon the tillage of 
the enclosures, and irregularities in the distribution of arable acres 
among the open fields could thus be corrected. In circumstances 
like these it is possible that the two- and three-field system may 
once have been existent but its integrity have been in time im- 
paired. The tenants had perhaps seen fit to change part of their 
arable to pasture; and the holdings of certain tenants who thus 
converted a part of their open arable field have been noted at 
South Stoke, Ashton Keynes, and Ingleton. Such conversion is 
always a sign of the decay of the original system. The preceding 
illustrations have shown that the normal enclosed area in two- or 
three-field townships seldom exceeded one-third of the arable, and 
usually was much less. Susindon will therefore attach to any 
terrier in which the ratio tends to be reversed and closes incline 
to iMredominate over the open-field arable in any hdding. 


Closely bound up with this first characteristic of the two- and 
three-field system is the further one that the arable acres of a hold- 
ing were divided with approximate equality between the two or 
three fields. This is unquestionably the fundamental trait of the 
S3rstem tmder consideration. It depends, of course, upon the fact 
that a fixed ratio had to be maintained year after year between 
tilled land and fallow. Under the two-field system the ratio was 
one to one, under the three-field system two to one. Any de- 
parture from an equal division of the acres of a holding between 
fields involved shortage for the tenant during the year in which 
his largest group of acres lay fallow. Increased abundance the 
ensuing year could scarcely repair the loss to a peasantry which 
probably lived close to the margin of subsistence. The difficulty 
would be greater in a two-field than in a three-field township, 
since a shortage of acres would there be more frequently and more 
acutely felt. The approximately eqtial distribution of the acres 
of a holding between two or three fields must therefore be em- 
ployed as a crucial test. A single terrier which evinces it ccmsti- 
tutes strong testimony to the existence of the system. If, on the 
other hand, not one but nearly all of the tenant-holdings fail to 
observe it, the township can scarcely be looked upon as lying in 
two or three fields. An arrangement of six fields by twos, like 
that at Rolleston, was only an unimportant modification of the 
three-field system. 

The phrase '' tenant-holdings," which has just been used, needs 
restricting. As the Kington and Handborough surveys show, 
and as many other surveys would emphasize if they were to 
be analyzed in f\ill, freeholds are likely to throw little light 
upon field systems. At least, this is true with regard to town- 
ships in which they did not constitute the majority of the holdings. 
In certain manors, especially in the eastern counties, freeholds 
assumed such an agrarian importance that they can be relied 
upon. Elsewhere they were generally small, not largely com- 
posed of oi>en-field arable, liable to be without messuage, and 
frequently in the possession of an absentee proprietor, who was 
often a corporation or a person of importance. For these reasons 
they have been seldom dted in the preceding abstracts. Nor can 


they henceforth be dei>ended upon m either the earlier or the later 
evidence to disprove the existence of two or three fields. In other 
words, the fact that a half-dozen freeholds, or even all the free- 
holds of a township, were not amenable to two- or three-field condi- 
tions does not prove that this system was there in disfavor. On 
the other hand, a single freehold which did divide its arable acres 
equally between two or three fields is a satisfactory bit of evidence 
in favor of the existence of the system. Such were the andent 
freeholds at Welford, and such was the glebe at Salford. Free- 
holds, in short, have aflirmative, not negative, value. The desir- 
able tenures for oiu: piirpose are copyholds, or the leaseholds into 
which they were sometimes transformed, as they probably were 
at Welford and Ingleton. Henceforth, therefore, copyholds, 
whenever available, will be dted in proof or disproof of the exist- 
ence of the two- or three-field system. Freeholds will be relied 
upon only in default of other evidence or when their significance 
is clear. 

The superior value of o^yholds depends in part upon one of 
their characteristics which leads in turn to a fourth useful test 
in the interpretation of field systems. Copyholds were usually 
rated in virgates or bovates, each of which was responsible for a 
fixed quotum of rents and services. Probably to avoid inconven- 
ience in the collection of rents and the exaction of services, the 
virgates and bovates, except again in some eastern counties, re- 
mained little changed for centuries. Division appears to have 
been unusual after the thirteenth century, and consolidation is 
first apparent in the sixteenth-century surveys. The virgate, 
therefore, represented a holding of long standing, originally de- 
signed to support a peasant family which could muster two ox^i 
for the plough. In Somerset such traditional holdings were some- 
times called, instead of virgates, ''de antiquo austro."^ Al- 
thou^ the virgates differed in size from township to township, 
within any particular <Mie they were aj^oximately equal in area, 
as the foregoing surveys have often shown. For an investigation 
of the early history of the two- and three-field system no frag- 
mentary evidence is so valuable as the terrier of a virgate. It is 

^ Surv^ of Kingsbuiy Episcopi, Land Rev., M. B. 202 £F., 199-353. 


the best assxurance that there were other similar holdings in the 
township, and that the acres of all were arranged in the fields 
much as were the acres about which we are informed. There 
were, to be sure, unrepresentative virgates.^ Yet when one con- 
siders how many virgate and bovate descriptions were cast in the 
same pattern, and that pattern i>erfectly indicative of the field 
system of the township, the significance of the copyhold virgate 
terrier is appreciated. While a single terrier may thus go far to 
establish the existence of the two- and three-field system, more 
than the terrier of one virgate is needed to disprove its existence. 
The virgate in question may have been exceptional. Only by 
the testimony of several irregular virgates from the same region, 
and preferably from the same township, can it be made dear that 
the two- and three-field system was non-existent there. Upon 
this principle several of the following chapters have been written. 
In the earlier evidence, however, it seldom happens that we 
get descriptions of virgates, bovates, or the halves of either. 
Nor are reasonably large holdings of any sort, whether cogyhold, 
leasehold, or freehold, always described. The acres of early 
terriers and charters were frequentiy few in number; and we 
must ask what confidefice is to be put in those grants of land 
which not only omit an estimate by virgates or bovates, but in 
addition convey not more than three or four acres ? The answer 
brings us to a fifth characteristic of the two- and three-field sys- 
tem which at this point is more or less decisive. We perceive, in 
short, that much depends upon the names of the fields. It will 
have been noted that the names of the fields in Tudor and 
Jacobean surveys were simple, being usually taken from those 
points of the compass toward which the fields lay with respect to 
the village — north, east, south, or west. Often in a two-field 
manor they, were named from opposite points, although at King- 
ton the fields were North and West. The fields again mi^t get 
their names from the topography of the place, and become Uppar 

> For example, the half-virgate of Richard Weller at Handborough, Oxons., that 
of Robert Sdl at Shipton-under-Wychwood, Oxons., that of Joanna Syninge at 
Ashton Ke3me8, Wilts, and that of Theron Symes at Welford, Nprt|ia^ts. Cf. 
Appendix I. 


and Lower; in a three-field township the third field might be- 
come Middle field. Other topographical features sometimes 
gave the hint. At Salford, for example, Wood field was near the 
wood and Brook field along the stream. Names like these are 
what may be called the obvious and usual field names. Accord- 
ingly, if in an early charter we discover two acres in three or four 
parcels lying in the West field of a township and two other acres 
similarly subdivided in the East field, the probability is that the 
grant points to a two-field township. In these cases it is always 
desirable to find a series of such grants (frequently met with in 
monastic cartularies) , and the evidence is more or less convinc- 
ing as the region is otherwise known to be or not to be one of two 
fields. Testimony of this sort has been noted in Appendix II, 
and may be accepted for what it is worth. If the field names 
appear fanciful, the grant either has been omitted, or has been 
included only because it is in keeping with what is otherwise 
known about the region. 

Thus far attention has been given only to testimony drawn 
from descriptions of freeholds or of copyholds (sometimes chang- 
ing into leaseholds). The third constituent of the manor, the 
demesne, has not been noticed. It is, in fact, less important 
than copyholds in helping us determine field S3^tems, since it so 
often lay without the open fields. Even if it was largely within 
them it might be irregularly apportioned, as at Salford. If we can 
be sure, however, that it lay with the tenants' holdings in the 
open common fields, the even distribution of its arable between 
two or three fields is as significant a fact as the like distribution 
of copyholds. Only occasionally do the extents make this point 
clear. Often they tell us in what field divisions the demesne lay, 
but frequently these appear to have been numerous. In such cases 
either the demesne acres were consolidated and the field names 
refer to large plats, perhaps closes; or, if the acres were not con- 
solidated, we have no clue to the relaticm existing between the 
numerous areas named and the field system employed. Such 
non-committal descriptions have to be disregarded. Sometimes 
in the extents, however, the demesne arable is said to lie equally 
divided between only two or three fields, and these bear the usual 


field names. In such cases we may conclude that the field system 
is coitectly indicated. 

Many extents are to be foimd in a group of documents which 
for this reason are of significance in the study of field systems. 
These documents are the inquisitions post mortem, preserved in 
large niunbers among the public records. During a period of 
about a century {c. 1270-1370) we find inserted in many such 
enumerations of the property of deceased fief-holders or free- 
holders extents of their manors. Nearly always the extents are 
brief, dismissing the demesne acres with an estimate of their an- 
nual value; but occasionally a note of explanation is added, and 
this is the item ^diich relates to field systems. It states that one- 
half or two-thirds of the demesne may be sown each year, and that 
when so sown the acres are worth a certain amoimt. The re- 
maining one-half or one-third, the extent continues, is worth 
nothing since it lies fallow and — the phrase is sometimes added 
— " since it lies in common." * Thus we are introduced to what 
might at first sight seem an equivalent of the two- or three-field 
system, namely, the two- or three-course rotation of crops. Much, 
however, depends upon keeping the two subjects distinct. 

Let it be at once admitted that the existence of a system of two 
or three fields in any township implies that a two- or three-course 
method of tillage was there followed. If one-half or one-third of 
the onnmon arable open-field area lay fallow each year, the parts 
successively tilled were imdoubtedly sown with nearly the same 
crops year after year. Any series of bailiffs' accoimts will make 
this dear.* The reverse of the generalization, however, b not 

1 For ezaii4)le, at Corby, Northants, there was a messuage with 180 acres of 
arable, " unde vi " possunt seminari per annum quarum qudibet acra Talet . . . 
ill d. . . . et residuum iacet ad Warectam et tunc nihil valet quia in fommuni " 
(C. Inq. p. Mort., Edw. Ill, F. 44 (6)). Cf. the phraseology in Appendix n. 

' At Gamlingay in Cambridgeshire, for instance, the demesne lay in three ctpitsi 
fidds (Mertoo CoDege map of 1601). A series of baili£b' accounts from the end of 
the thirteenth oe&tury records the sowing of grains during four years, as foUows 
(Merton Col. Recs., nos, 5355-58): — 

Year Fnuneatomlet) SiUfo Dngctumktl Pinfetl Avena 

ai-a> Edw. I pUegibb) loqr. 7ba. aoqr. $ba. tqr. 4qr. 

aa-aj ** 14 gr. 4|b«i. lo 7 90 3l t 4 ibn. 

ty^A ** xa 41 XX 4 x8 6 I Tbo. i 7I 

Ur^S ** x6i 9 t as a 9 t 6a 

More spring com than winter com was requked to sow an acre. 


equaUy true. A two- or three-course rotation of crops did not 
necessarily imply a two- or three-field system. If we have evi- 
dence pointing to the former as characteristic of the tillage of 
demesne lands, or even of the tillage of the entire township, it 
does not follow that demesne or tenants' holdings had their acres 
equally divided between two or three large fields. All might 
have been enclosed and yet a two- or three-course rotation of crops 
have been found acceptable; for this rotation was adaptable to 
various field systems. Only in connection with two or three large 
open fields, intermixed acres, and the annual use of one of the 
fields as common fallow pasture did it become a constituent part 
of the two- and three-field system. 

With this in mind we may imdertake the interpretation of those 
phrases of the extents which relate to the tillage of the demesne. 
If the value of two-thirds of the demesne is estimated but the 
remaining third is said to be worth nothing because fallow, this is 
insufficient to assure us that the agricultural system was one of 
two or three fields. Such a statement was applicable to en- 
closed demesne where the pasturage of the fallow was not deemed 
to be of value.^ Again, it is not sufficient to be told, as we often 
are, that the demesne lands lay in common ''while unsown"; 
for this remark may have referred to the period after harvest, 
when imder various systems these lands would have been thrown 
open. We must know that the period of common pasturage 
extended throughout the year.* Finally, it must be made clear 
what fraction of the demesne lay fallow and common. Unless it 
were mie-half or one-third, there is no necessary approach to a 
two- or three-field S3rstem. 

^ To be sure, unsown demesne did sometimes have a definite value as pasture. 
In several Essex extents, for example, the arable acres were worth 4 d, " quando 
seminantur, et quando non seminantur valet inde pastura . . . pretium acre ii d." 
(C. Inq. p. Mort, Edw. Ill, F. 67 (10), Latchmgdon, 17 Edw. HI). But it is 
not quite certain that these unsown acres were fallowed. Their value was rather 
hig^ for fallow stubble, and some sort of grass may have been grown after the 
corn years. In general, enclosed fallow was probably worth little and so escaped 

' The de8crq>tion of fifty acres of arable at Wrentham, Suffolk, for instance, states 
that th^ were worth 2 i. the acre " quum seminantur, et quum non seminantur nihil 
valent quia iacent in cooununi " (C. Inq. p. Mort, Edw. Ill, F. 60 (6), 13 Edw. 


Even when all the specifications just insisted upon are met, and 
we are told that one-half or one-third of the demesne lay fallow 
and common throughout the entire year and for this reason was 
of no value to the lord, there remains an element of doubt. Did 
the fraction in question lie in one of two or three large fields ? 
There is no guarantee that such was the case. Even if, as rarely 
happens, it be said to lie '' in communi campo," the distribution 
may have been irregular throughout the commonable area. We 
have seen it so at Salford, Bedfordshire, in the sixteenth century, 
and yet the preceding specifications could probably have been met 
in a description of the demesne there. For our present purpose, 
which is the determination of those two- and three-field charac- 
teristics that will enable us to interpret the early evidence, it is 
sufficient to accept the following working hypothesis: If the 
arable of the demesne be described in an inquisition-extent as 
lying one-half or one-third fallow each year, with the fallow acres 
of no value because commonable, this may be taken as evidence 
that a two- or three-field system was employed in the township, 
provided that other testimony shows the system to have been 
characteristic of the region in question; but if other testimony be 
against the existence of the two- or three-field system in the 
county or district in which the township lies, the evidence of the 
extent will have to be weighed against this other testimony and 
an independent conclusion reached. Such balancing of evidence 
must be imdertaken in examining the field systems of certain 
coimties of the southeast. In those coimties in which there can 
be no doubt about the general prevalence of the two- and three- 
field system, the phrases of the extents may be quoted without 
further discussion. They have been extracted from the inquisi- 
tions post mortem for a period of ten years (7-16 Edward III), 
certain others have been added, and in Appendix II all have been 
placed last in the collection of early evidence relative to each 

m). In contrast with tlus vague pfaiase the account of six himdred acres at 
Lidgate in the same county is entirely specific. Two hundred oC them '' iacent 
quolibet tertio anno ad warectam et in communi per totum annum et tunc nihfl 
valent "; the remaining four hundred '' iace(nH in communi a tempore asporta- 
tionis bladorum usque festum' Annundationis beate Marie (i. e., from September 
tiU March] " (ibid., F. 41 (19)* 9 £<iw. lU). 


coimty.^ By this device their somewhat questionable testim<Miy 
need not be confused with other authority. 

A final characteristic of the two- and three-field system is im- 
plicit in these statements made by the extents relative to the 
demesne. This feature is the existence of common rights of 
pasturage throughout the year over the field which lay fallow, 
and, when the other field or fields were not under cr(^, over 
them as well. The meadows, too, we know, were thrown open 
after the hay was removed. Only slight traces of these usages 
appear in the sixteenth-century surveys. At times after each 
copyhold entry we are told what were the tenant's rights of pas- 
ture,* but more often the rights over the arable fields and meadows 
were assumed to be inherent in the system and were not men- 
tioned. Pasturage rights in the fell, the marsh, or the moor re- 
ceived more attenti<m, especially if such waste land had to be 
stinted; earlier legal documents, too, especially cases before the 
courts and agreements between nei^boring lords, tell something 
about these rights of pasture. All this, however, is of no immedi- 
ate interest in discriminating between field systems. Practically 
all townships at an early time had their waste, in which tenants 
baud common of pasture. One influence only the waste had upon 
the tillage of the arable fields, and this arose from the relative size 
of the two areas. If in any township the waste was extensive in 
comparison with the open-field arable, utilization of the latter for 
pasturage mi^t be a matter of little moment, the fomier sufficing 
for the cattle and sheep. In consequence, deviation from a strict 
two- or three-field system in the cultivation of the arable and in 
the rotation of crops became relatively easy. This aspect of 
things will claim attention in the coimties of the northwest, 
where for the most part the waste did predominate over the 
arable. It may also have had much to do with the Irregularities 
which we shall discover in the arable fields of townships situated 
within forest areas.* 

Though seldom specifically noticed in the manorial documents; 
the right of pasturage over the arable f idlow was so boimd up with 

^ Hie plmseology of each extent is noted in the tranaciipts. 
* Cf . Appendix n. * Cf . pp. 84-83, b^w. 


tbe nature of tbe two- and thiee-field S)rstem that it would not be 
altogether incorrect to call it the determining idea of that system. 
Why divide the arable into two at three (possibly four or six) 
large unbroken fields ? Convenience would, of course, be served. 
It was simider to have the strips idiich were to be tilled in a par- 
ticular year gathered within one-half Gt two-thirds of the arable 
area than to have them scattered throu(^out its entire extmt. 
Yet dissemination of strips was by no means abhorrmt to the 
mediaeval peasant mind. What was really gained by keq)ing 
the arable furlcmgs rn a compact area was omveniaice of another 
sort. It was the possibility of letting the cattle range without 
hindrance over a large part of the township. Had any furlongs 
within a large fallow area been subjected to cultivation while the 
rest of the area was utilized for fallow pasture, it would have 
been necessary to fence the cultivated portions. Such an incon- 
venience was obviated by large and simple boundaries, and the 
easy utilization of the fallow for pasture was what lay behind 
a system of two or three comprehensive fields. In East Ang^ 
different pasturage proviaons deflected the field boimdaries, and 
with them the field system, from the normal type. 

Important as is the relation between common ri^ts of pasture 
and the two- and three-field system, the records at our disposal 
seldom enable us to argue from the former to the latter. Since 
references to common rights of pasture are infrequent even in 
elaborate sixteenth-century surveys, the less can they be expected 
in the briefer early documents. It is rather in the directicm of 
dis[m>of that certain items will be of avail. In the East Anglian 
evidence there are references to pasturage arrangements of a sort 
not realizable imder a two- or three-fidd system. In consequence 
of this (and of other circumstances) it will be possible to maintain 
that the syslem was not there employed. On the other hand, 
whenever in the case of two- or three-field townships no informa- 
tion regarding pasturage rights is to be had and no contradictory 
indicaticms a{^)ear, it may fairly be ass\mied that the sheep and 
cattle were each year pastured over a large compact arable fidd* 

If this characteristic of the two- and three-fidd system is seldom 
perceptible in the early documents, such is not the case with the 


other features which have been noted above. However brief the 
terrier or grant, it will indicate whether arable open fidd tended to 
prepcmderate over enclosures; it will show how evenly the arable 
was divided between two or three fields; very likely it will be the 
descrq>tion of a aq>yhold; it may by good chance refer to a vir- 
gate, a bovate, or a fraction thereof. If our source of information 
be an extent rather than a terrier, it may, if it relates to a two- or 
three-field township, dther apportion the demesne acres between 
two or three fields, or it may state that every second or third year 
one-half ox <me-third of the demesne was fallow and had no 
vahie because it lay in commcxi. Such are the criteria to be ap- 
{died in sifting the evidence now to be considered. 


The Earlier History of the Two- and Three-Field 


Relying upon the characteristics of the two- and three-field 
system deduced from the comprehensive evidence of the six- 
teenth-century surveys, we may now turn to the more fragmen- 
tary and, for the most part, earlier testimony touching the 
system in question. It has been collected and arranged by 
coimties in Appendix H. Much of it is in the nature of terriers 
of single holdings foimd in rentals or deeds of conveyance, but 
only such evidence as satisfies the criteria indicated in the last 
chapter has been admitted. In particular, reasonably equal dis- 
tribution of arable acres between two or three fields has been 
insisted upon. Descriptions of freeholds and leaseholds have been 
utilized when they give unmistakable information about field 
systems and when copyholds have not been available. Items 
relative to small holdings have not been excluded if the acres in 
question lay equally divided between fields which bore the usual 
names. Lastly, the statements of the extents concerning fallow 
and commonable demesne have been appended whenever they 
appear pertinent. This collection of early evidence ought, it 
would seem, to enable us to answer certain questions regarding 
the two- and three-field system. At what time did it first 
appear in England ? Throughout what territory did it prevail ? 
Were two-field or three-field townships the earlier ? Were the 
former sometimes transformed into the latter ? And what were 
the respective areas appropriated by each group ? Answers to 
these questions can be secured from Appendix II, although they 
may not always be so precise as might be desired. 

Most imsatisfactory is the teistimony regarding the first ques- 
tion — that which asks about origins. The difficulty, as is usual 
with such queries, arises from paucity of evidence. From the 
end of the twelfth century, when the feet of fines begin and when 



grants of land first become specific and descriptive, we have 
acceptable information; but between the Conquest and the reign 
of Richard I the charters disdain field detail. So, too, for 
the most part do those of the Anglo-Saxon period. Since it is 
very desirable, however, to have some conception about field 
arrangements at this time, fragmentary evidence may well be 
attended to. 

The testimony of the charters and laws of Anglo-Saxon England 
relative to open arable fields has been noticed by Nasse 
and Seebohm.^ These writers point out that certain suggestive 
phrases and a few definite statements establish the existence of 
common arable fields in England long before the Conquest; but 
neither writer adduces any evidence which shows that the system 
employed was a two- or three-field one.* 

Since the charters are more remimerative in information than 
the laws, we may turn first to them. Such pertinent matter as 
they contain is usually found in the boundaries of the land which 
they convey. These boimdaries, which follow the Latin body 
of the charter, are nearly always in Anglo-Saxon. Often they 
are later than the charter itself, but by how much it is seldom 
possible to determine. Except for a few brief early ones, they 
date from the ninth, tenth, and eleventh centuries. Since for 
the most part they bound large parcels of land — the five, ten, 
or twenty hides conveyed — they often coincide with the bound- 
aries of a township. Usually, too, they refer to striking features 
of the landscape — roads, hills, ditches, streams, groves, trees, 
barrows, and the like; and in«so far as this is the case they give 
no information relevant to our subject. 

Certain grants, however, were less extensive than a township, 
and it might be expected that the boundaries of these would 

^ Nasse, Agricultural Community, ^, iS-26; Seebohm, English Village Com- 
munity, pp. 105-117. 

* Nasse (op. cit., p. 25) was indined to see a three-field arrangement in King 
Eadwig's grant of twenty hides to Abingdon nx>nastery (Kemble, Codex Diplomatic 
cuSf 1 316). The specification runs, '' Dis stndon i$a landgemaero tSaesse burlandes 
to Abbendune, tSaet is gadertang on ytto genamod, tSaet is Hengestes ig and Seofo- 
canwyrtS and Wihtham." Unfortunately for Nasse's interpretation, it turns out 
that Hinksey and Witham are two townships just west of Oxford. 


immediately reveal the existence of an open-field system. One 
hide subtracted from a five-hide township should, under a two- 
or three-field system, comprise many scattered parcels in the 
arable fields; ^ and the bounding of such a hide should invdive a 
reference to the existence of these scattered acres. Such refer- 
ences, as it happens, are seldom found. Wherefore Nasse and 
Seebohm have argued that in these cases there grew up the con- 
vention of giving the boundaries of the entire township, just as 
if the latter were conveyed in toto.* The convention, they ex- 
plain, would have arisen because the intermixture of acres made 
difficult any exact definition of boundary. Reversing the argu- 
ment, they conclude that, if part of a township is described with 
the boundary phrases employed elsewhere relative to the entire 
township, this circumstance proves that intermixed acres existed. 
In all they cite six instances to establish such a usage. Thereupon 
they infer that the general employment in Anglo-Saxon charters 
of ccMidse boundaries for relatively small transfers of land is 
evidence of the wide extension of open-field arable at an early 

Before this conclusion can be admitted, the six instances fn»n 
which they argue that a grant of part of a township and another 
of the complete township employ the same boundaries deserve re- 
examination. One instance relates to Kingston, Berk^iire.* 
Two charters of almost the same date describe respectively thir- 
teen mansae and seven cassatij the boimdaries being alike. We 
are not, however, left to arrive at the existence of intermixed 
arable acres by inference; for in both charters we find the pre* 
amble, '' Dis sind i$a landgemaero [boimdaries] to Cyngestune 
aecer onder aecere." The last phrase, " aecer onder aecere," is so 
unusual that there might be doubt about its meaning were it not 
for the explanation vouchsafed in another charter. Three cassali 
at Hendred, Berkshire, transferred in 962, are left without 
boundaries; but where the metae are usually inserted we are tdid, 
'' Dises landgemaera S3ai gemaene sua tsaet lii$ aefre aecer under 

^ Unless, as often happened at a later period, it was consolidated demesne. 
* Nasse, op. dt, pp. 24, 25; Seebohm, op. dt., p. iii. 
» Cod. Dip,, 1276, 1277 (c. 977). 


aecer," " The boundaries are common in such way that the 
arable acres are intermixed/' ^ This clarifies the phraseology of 
the Kingston charters. The preamble to them wishes to tell us 
that the acres were intermixed. It is equivalent to explaining 
why the scribe gave the boundaries of an entire township rather 
than attempt the impossible task of locating scattered acres. We 
may therefore agree with Nasse and Seebohm in their immediate 
inference that open arable fields are referred to in the Kingston 
charters, but we are not obliged to adopt their generalization. 
It appears rather that, if the boimdaries of a township are used 
to describe a part of the township, this device is explained 
by a statement about intermixed acres.' When such explana- 
tion is wanting, inferences as to intermixed acres may be im- 

Another citation of Nasse's and one of Seebohm's are not more 
happy. The latter is concerned with two charters which relate 
to Stanton, Somerset, and employ very similar boimdaries. One 
conveys two and one-half hides, the other seven and one-half.' 
But the former distinctly states, " Dis synt t$a landgemaera to 
Stantune [the entire township]," and after the recital continues, 
*^ Donne is binnan Sam tyn hydun Aelfsiges [the grantee's] )>ridde 
healfe hide." The justification for the use of the boimdaries of 
the township in connection with a part of it is specific: the two 
and one-half hides lay within the ten hides. Nasse's Waltham 
instance is of the same sort; ^ for the fourteen hides which King 
Eadmund booked are expressly said to lie '^ binnan i$am |>ritigum 
hidum landgemaero " — wUkin the thirty hides whose boundaries 
are given. At Waltham, as at Stanton, the use of the boimdaries 
of an entire township when a part of the township was to be con- 
veyed appeared so unusual as to need explanation. 

Two other groups of charters to which we are referred are not 
convincing. In 903, as Seebohm points out. King Edward gave 
to his ''princeps" Ordlaf twenty cassali at Stanton, Wiltshire; in 

^ Cod, Dip,, 1240. 

* Nasse dtes the explanatory phrase of the Kingston charters, but Seebohm re- 
fers to it only in a note upon another point (op. cit., p. 112, n. 3). 

» Cod. Dip,, 502 (on. 963), 516 (an, 965). * Ibid, 1134 (an, 940). 


957 King Edwig omveyed to Bishc^ Osulf twenty mansae at the 
same place.^ There b a sli^t if not a very exact correspond- 
ence between the descriptions of the boundaries of the two grants. 
Assume, as Seebohm did, that the boundaries are the same. Why 
should each twenty mansae (or cassaU) be looked upon as part 
of a larger township ? Why should they not refer to the same 
area — perhaps to a township of twenty hides ? That the 
grantees in each charter were different need cause no difficulty. 
Between 903 and 957 the twenty mansae may well have reverted 
to the crown. The first grant was of the sort which did revert; 
it had just done so in 903. The boimdaries to which Nasse infers 
at Wolverley, Worcestershire, were probably alike for the same 
reason.' In one charter the king gave two mansae to one of his 
minislriy in the other two mansae to the cathedral church at Wor- 
cester. Both grants, to be sure, occurred within the same year. 
It is not improbable, however, that there was a speedy reversion 
and r^ant, while the identity of the mansae conveyed is insured 
by the circumstance that the first grantee (Pulfferd) gave his 
name to the land. 

A last instance is dted by Nasse. In the middle of the tenth 
century eighteen mansae and twenty-two mansae were conveyed 
at Welford, Berkshire, with substantially the same boimdaries.' 
No phrase explains why this is so, nor do the ei^teen seem to 
have been a part of the twenty-two. Nasse apparently thought 
them constituents of a forty-hide manor, bounded similarly be- 
cause arable acres were intermixed. The first part of this assump- 
tion seems justifiable. In Domesday Book, Welford is set down 
as a manor '' formerly " rated at fifty hides.^ What Nasse forgot 
is that a manor of this size was usually composite, containing 
within its bounds more than one township. A comparison of the 
Domesday map with the modem one reveals Welford as such 
a manor.* This being the case, the eighteen and the twenty- 

» Cod. Dip,, 335 (an. 903), 467 (an. 957). 

' Ibid., 291, 392 (an. 866). * Ibid., 427 (an. 949), 1198 (an. 956). 

« '' T. R. £. se defendit pro 1 hidis et modo pro xxxvii (i. 586)." 

* Cf . Victoria History of Berkshire, i. 323. Several hamlets near Welford do not 
appear on the Domesday map, e. g., EasUm, Widdiam, Warmstall, Clapton, Slief- 


two hides can scarcely be referred to a single township of forty 
hides. Since, however, the agrarian unit within which arable 
acres were intermixed was the township rather than the com- 
posite manor, these charters tell us nothing about a usage such 
as Nasse argues for. To be convincing, he should have pointed 
to a small niunber of hides (less than ten) bounded with the 
boundaries of the township within which they are supposed to 
have lain. 

Inasmuch as neither he nor Seebohm cites instances of this 
sort which are not self-explanatory, it does not seem safe, in 
cases where we cannot compare the boimdaries of fractional and 
entire townships, to infer that the boundaries of small grants 
were frequently those of townships. Without this inference it 
is not possible to argue that the general character of Anglo- 
Saxon charter boundaries goes to prove the early prevalence of 
intermixed arable acres in England. 

Another aspect of the boimdaries, however, better endures 
examination. This Seebohm pointed out,^ and this Vinogradoff 
has emphasized.' They remark that in some enumerations are 
found words and phrases drawn from the open-field vocabulary, 
phrases which must naturally have occurred wherever the boimd- 
ary of a township ran for a space along an open arable field. The 
appearance of these expressions in the description of meiae, they 
argue, goes to prove the existence of arable common fields. 

Prominent among phrases of this kind is forierihe or heafod- 
aecer.* It was the term applied to the long headland upon which 
the strips of a furlong abutted, and would scarcely have been 
used in a region not characterized by intermixed strips. Garae- 
cer, or gore acre, the small irregular triangle in the comers of 
furlongs, also appears.^ This term was less essentially boimd up 
with an open-field system than was ''headland," being applicable 
to any parcel of land thus shaped; still, it was one of the phrases 
of the open-field vocabulary, and its use as a landmark may be 
significant Relative to hlinCy so often found and so strongly 

^ Op. cit, p. X07. 

> En^isk Society in ike Eletfemth CetOmy, p. 278. 

* F<Mr early instances, see Cod. Dip.^ 437, xoSo. ^ e. g., ibid., 1080. 


insisted upon by Seebohin and Vinogradoff , there seems to be no 
reason for supposing that in the boundaries it meant anything 
more than hillside. Such has been and is its usual connotation. 
Seebohm explains that terraces of hillside arable strips were in 
the nineteenth century called " lynches "; ^ but the term seems 
seldom to have had this significance in sixteenth-century surveys 
or in earlier field documents.' Its application to the terraces is 
probably late, and due to an extension of the original meaning. 
Among the phrases of the boundaries, therefore, that which most 
clearly refers to open fields is heqfodaecer, and the first appearance 
of this is in the tenth century. 

Apart from occasional open-field words which by chance crept 
into the boundaries, the charters contain a few specific references 
to the open-field system. Nasse first dted four of them, all in 
tenth-century grants to Abingdon monastery, and still among 
our best bits of evidence.* Seebohm added one reference,* \^o- 
gradoff three,* and Maitland four, two of them credible and two 
doubtful.* Ten of these citations, together with nine others, 
may now be given as embodying the most convincing evidence 
which the charters of the Anglo-Saxon period proffer regarding 
open-field conditions: — 

* Op. cit, p. 5. 

' The Hertfordshire instance cited below on (p. 377, n. 2) is unusual. 

* Op. dt., pp. 22, 24. In the following list the four axe nos. 1169, 1234, 1240, 
1278, in Kemble's Codex, 

* Op. dt, p. 112, n. (Cod. Dip.f 1213). 

» English Society J pp. 259, 277, 279 {Cod. Dip., 793, 503; CarU. Sax., 1130). 

* Domesday Book, pp. 365-366. The credible ones are here given: Cod. Dip., 
339, 586. The doubtful ones axe from Kefft and have not the characteristics of 
two- or three-fidd grants: ibid., 241 {an. 839), 259 {an. 845). Of the latter the 
first refers to ** zziiii iugeras ... in duabus lods in Dorovemia dvitatis intua [intra] 
muros dvitatis x iugera cum viculis praedictis et in aquflone praedictae dvitatis 
ziiii iugera histis terminibus drcumiacentibus. ..." The boundaries whidi 
follow indicate that the fourteen acres formed a single parcel, while the ten acres 
seem to have been within the walls. The other Kentish charter conveys ** zviiii . . . 
iugera hoc est vi iugera ubi nominatur et Uuihtbaldes hlawe et in australe parte 
puplice strate altera vi et in australe ocddentale que pupHce strate ubi appeUatur 
Uueoweraget in confinioque Deoringlondes vii iugero. . . ." The equal division 
of acres here does indeed suggest a threefold plan, but the awkward location 
of the three subdivisions with reference to highways rather than fields shows that 
the arrangement was acddentaL Kent, as we shall see, was one of the English 
counties in whidi the three-fidd system did not come to prevaiL 


Date ]Uleitiioe> County, ViUafe. and DacripUoo 

904 339 Worcs.» Beferbuioan (Baiboum). " £ac hio sellaS him 

be befer buioan pa. ludadingwic] ec paet to seztig 
aecera earSlondes be suSan bef erbuioan ] oer sextig be 
iior5an. ..." 

953 1 169 Berks, Cusanhricge (Currage in Chievdey). Grant of 

V cassati. After the boundaries occurs, " And on tSan 
gemanan lande gebyrai$ t$arto fif and sixti aeccera." 

958 1 213 Berks, Draitune (Drayton). Grant of x manjo^. " Dis 

sind t$a landgemaera to Draitune, aecer under aecer." 

961 1234 Berks, Ae5eredingetune (Addington in Hungerford). 

Grant of iz numsae, " Das nigon hida licggeatS on 
gemang ot$ran gedallande feldlaes gemane and maeda 
gemane and yitSland gemaene." 

962 1240 Berks, HenneritSe (Hendred). Grant of iii cassaii, 

** Dises landgemaera syn gemaene sua t$aet HS aefre 
aecer under aecer." 

963 503 WUts, Afene (Avon). Grant of iii cassati, "singidis 

iugeribus miztim in communi rure hue iliucque dis- 
not earlier Cartl. Wilts, pinterbuman (Winterboum). Grant of x mansae. 
than 964 Sax,, 1145 "pis syndon )>ara fif hida land gemaera Into pinter- 
buman be l^estan tune syndries landes. . . . 
ponne 83mdon pa fif hida be Eastan tune gemaenes lan- 
des on gemaenre mearce spa s|ni hit |>aer to be limped." 

966 531 Gbucs., Clifforda (ClifiPord Chambers). Three-life lease 

of ii numsae: " o6er healf hid gedaellandes and healf 
hid on t$aere ege." 

974 586 Gloucs., Cudindea (Cuddingley). Grant of i mansa. 

After the boundaries occurs, " and xxx aecra on tSaem 
twaem feldan dallandes wii$utan." 
c. 977 1276 Berks, Cyngestun (Kingston). Grant of xiii mansae. 

** Dis sind t$a landgemaero to Cyngestune aecer onder 
aecere." Boundaries, " on t$a heafodaeceras." 

983 1278 Berks [?],CeorIatun. Grant of v aijso/f. "Rusnamque 

praetaxatum manifestis undique terminis minus divi- 
ditur, quia iugera altrinsecus copulata adiacent" 

985 '648 Hants, Harewillan (Harewell). Grant of xvii cassaii, 

" segetibus mixtis." 

987 658 Hants, Feamlaefa (Farieigh). Grant of iii mansae at 

Westwood and iii perUcae at Fariei^ After the 
boimdaries of Westwood is, " Donnae licgeatS t$a I'reo 
gyrda on o6aere haealf ae fromae aet Faeamlaeagae on 
gaemaenum tandae." 

> Tht KfcrcncM, with the cxceptioa o( Jtwo to Birch's CartMlarimm StM^micmm, are to the nam- 
ben io KcflU>le*8 C#rftar DifUmtHcus, In vohime ifi of the C^rktUnnm there it a table showiac the 
c o fT Bipo iidHi g Bdnben la oie two works. 



990 674 Worcs., UpfySrap (Upthoip). Three-life lease of ii luda 

totwobrotbers: "andseeildimhaebbetSA^reoaecetas, 
and se iungn tkxie feorSan, ge innory ge otter." 
c. 973-993 CarU, Northants, Oxanege (Ozney). PbaBfasions of Peter- 
Sojc, 1130 bocough abbey. " pit( utan y^Bt ige sod stkca landes 
|wt is ameten to xzx aecenun. . . ." 

995 693 Gloucs., Dumbeltim (Dtunbletoik). Grant of "doas man- 

sas et difnidiam . . . praedictum nis, qood m com- 
muni terra situm est." 

I003 1395 Gloacs., Dimioltim (Dmnbletoo). Grant of xsooSl man- 

saCy ** z et vu in ocddentaU parte fluminis Esingbunian 
. . . ac duas in orientafi eiusdem torrentis dimate, 
sorte communes popular! aet Eastune, necnon et v 
[in] lods silvaticis. ..." 

849 363, App. Worcs., Cof tun (Cofton). Boundaiy, " up be tSam gemae- 
[actually z nan lande." 

or zi cent.] 

1050 793 Qzons., Sandforda (Sandfoiti). Grant of iiii mansae. 

" Dis sind 5a landgemaera to Sandfoixla on tSam gem- 
annan lande." 

What is most immediately to be deduced from these nineteen 
citations is the fact that, while none of them are earlier than the 
tenth century, there did exist at that time so-called common land. 
Frequently the passages imply nothing more. The sixty-five 
acres at Currage were " on t(an gemanan lande/' ^ as were the 
three roods at Farleigh and the four numsae at Sandford. A 
boundary at Cofton ran " up be t$am gemaenan lande." The 
Hendred charter, as we have seen, amplifies the term " gemaene " 
enough to explain that its lands lay '' aecer under aecer," a 
phrase which, along with the mention of ^' haefod aecer " in the 
boundaries, must lead us to agree with Nasse and Seebohm in see- 
ing at Kingston intermixed arable acres. ^' Aecer under aecer " 
is also used to describe the situation at Drayton. 

' Nasse, arguing for eariy convertible husbandry as applied to the waste, sees 
in this " a certam portion of the common pasturage . . . taken up and apfdied tem- 
porarily to aiiible purposes " (op, dt., p. 33). Since there is no other reference 
in Angk>-Sazon documents to convertible husbandry of this kind (Naase's other 
citation implies, as many charters do, merely proportionate rights in the waste), 
it seems better to hiterpret the Currage phrase as descrqittve of five hides of 
demesn e to which sizty-five acres in the oonunon arable fidds were appurtenant 


The Addington account of nine hides is valuable in that it 
further amplifies our conception of " gemaene land." These hides 
lay " on gemang ot^ran gedallande/' and their " yrSland " was 
'^ gemaene." Nothing could more fittingly describe holdings in 
open field than to say that they lay in the midst of other divided 
land, with the arable (as well as the pastures and meadows) in 
common. Gedalland, or divided land, was, then, the technical 
Anglo-Saxon phrase for intermixed arable acres. Its use may 
imply that the division of the arable had passed beyond a stage 
of yearly allotment to one of permanent possession. It may, on 
the other hand, imply nothing about permanence of possession, 
but may refer only to the minute subdivision to which the arable 
had been subjected. Whichever the case, it is a more specific 
term than '' gemaene land," a phrase applicable to common pas- 
tures and common meadows as well as to arable. 

The implications of gedalland once dear, a brief reference to 
it in the Clifford charter is self-explanatory. Here one-half of 
two mansae was on an island, and the other half was ^^ gedael- 
land." But the term seldom occurs in the charters, being of 
more importance in a well-known passage of the laws. The par- 
cels of the " divided " land were, as Vinogradoff conjectures, 
probably known as "sticca," sixty of which at Oxney were 
equivalent to thirty acres.^ 

The term contrasted with gedalland as indicative of ownership 
in severalty was " syndrig land." In the ^^Hbterboume charter 
such were the five hides to the west of the village, and pains are 
taken to contrast them with the five hides of " gemaene land " 
to the east. The former must have been what would at a later 
day have been called demesne, relative to which common rights 
were non-existent. 

Latin equivalents of the Anglo-Saxon phrases are easy to inter- 
pret. At Dumbleton two and a half mansae were " in cpmmuni 
terra," and in another charter two mansae were ^' sorte communes 
pq[>ulari," common and in common lot. The phrase ^' aecer 
tmder aecer " got itself translated as '' segetibus mixds " at Hare- 
well. At ^' Ceorlatun " the circumlocution was longer, ^' iugera 

^ Cf. the above list, and his English Socidy, p. 379. 


altrinsecus copulata adiacent" Clearest was the tlesciiptkm at 
Avon, ''acres scattered here and there intermizedly in the 
common arable field." 

At Upthrop we can see the acres getting intermixed. Two 
brothers so divided two hides there that in all places the elder 
had three acres, the younger the fourth. The division would 
scarcely have been described in this way had it looked to the 
creation of two compact holdings. Instead of this, we may 
assume that each plot of the two hides was divided and two 
holdings of scattered parcels created. 

Only two of the passages suggest what kind of field system was 
in use, and these Maitland has already quoted. At Cuddingiey 
in Gloucestershire there were thirty acres of "[ge]dalland " in the 
two fields, a pretty clear reference to a two-field system. Some- 
what more questionable is the other passage. Appended to the 
grant of a parcel of land within the dty of Worcester were sixty 
acres of arable to the south of " Beferbuman " and sixty to 
the north. If Beferbuman (Barboum) was then a hamlet, as it 
is today, the description would be not unlike many later ones 
which indicate the presence of two fields by the statement that 
a certain number of acres lay on one side of a village and the 
same number on the other side.^ In the charter of 904, however, 
the name Barboum may have designated merely a stream. If 
so, there is no particular significance in the passage, since land 
divided by a brook may have been consolidated. 

It chances that this Barboum charter is earlier by fifty years 
than any other of the list. Indeed, most of our citations date 
from the second half of the tenth century. If, then, the Bar- 
boum reference be excluded, our first reliable charter testimony 
touching open fields in England dates from these decades. That 
we have nothing earlier is perhaps due to the comparative rarity 
of genuine charters before 950, and to the very brief references to 
boundaries which the genuine ones contain. 

One other feature of the passages quoted is of interest. AU 
refer to townships located within seven counties, and these are 
counties of the southem midlands. Berkshire, Hampshire, Wilt- 

^ Cf.. Appendix H. 


shire, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Oxfordshire, and North- 
amptonshire form a compact area, a part of the larger territory 
within which we shall soon see the two- and three-field system 
domiciled. The testimony of the charters is, therefore, in accord 
with that of more detailed but later evidence. Briefly stated, 
it is this: in seven counties of the southern midlands some 
twenty charters of the tenth and eleventh centuries testify to the 
existence of open conunon arable fields, and one or two of them 
probably reflect to a two-field system. 

Turning to the Anglo-Saxon laws, we find a single passage of 
first-rate importance relative to open fields, but we find little 
besides. The passage in question, which has been quoted by 
Nasse and Seebohm,^ runs as follows: — 

" Gif ceorlas gaerstun haebben gemaenne 66tt oiper ged&Uand 
to tynanne, 7 haebben siune getyned hiora dael, sume naebben, 
7 etten hiora gemaenan aeceras o6t$e gaers, g&n |>a |K)nne fe 
tsaet geat agan, 7 gebete |»am oSrum, |>e hiora d&el getynedne 
haebben, )K)ne aewerdlan ft t^aer gedon sie." * 

What gives this regulation a unique importance is its date. 
Ine's laws belong to the end of the seventh century, to the years 
between 688 and 694.* At this time there existed, as the extract 
shows, common meadow and '' other gedalland " which it was the 
duty of the tenants to hedge. If one of them failed to do his 
share of the hedging, and cattle destroyed the growing grass or 
grain, he was responsible to his co-tenants. Such a conception 
of gedalland corresponds with what we have learned of it in 
the tenth century. The term was then applied to conunon inter- 
mixed arable acres. The gedalland of Ine's law was not pasture, 
since pasture would not have been divided. It was '' other 

^ Naase, op. at,, p. 19; Seebohm, op. cit., p. no. 

' F. Liebermann, Die Gesetse der Angdsacksen (3 vols., Halle, 1898-1912), i. 106. 
' ' If ceoils have common meadow or other gedalland to hedge and some have hedged 
their share and some have not, [and if stray catUe] eat their common acres or grass, 
let those who are answerable for the opening go and give compensation to those 
who have hedged their share for the injury which may have been done.'' 

* Liebermann, '' Ueber die Gesetze Ines von Wessez," in MHamics d'HisUnn 
ojferts d M, Charles Bimont . . . (Paris, 1913), p. 32. Liebermann recognizes 
in the above passage " ein Dorf mit Gemeinwiese und Gemenglage der Aecker " 
(ibid., 36). 


than " meadow. It must have been arable. The arable acres 
must further have been intermixed, else the cattle, once throu^ 
the hedge, could not have ranged over all of them. CommcMi 
intermixed arable acres in England are therefore discernible at 
the end of the seventh century. The law assures us of their 
existence two centuries before the charters give testimony. 

In another respect the law agrees with the charters. Both lo- 
cate the early arable open field in the western and jsouthem mid- 
lands. The counties to which the charters refer were (with the 
possible exception of Northamptonshire) of West Saxon origin.^ 
That the laws of Ine were applicable to the same territory at 
the end of the ninth century is shown by Alfred's recension of 
them. Wessex and the southern edge of Merda were thus the 
regions within which we see arable open field {uretty clearly at the 
end of the seventh century and quite unmistakably in the tenth. 

Apart from their implications regarding the existence of com- 
mon arable fields, our earliest sources tell us little. No refer^ice 
to a three-field township is vouchsafed, and only twice (in the 
tenth century) is there probable reference to a two-field township. 
But meagre as is the contribution of Anglo-Saxon documents to 
our knowledge of field systems, that of the first Norman caitury 
is not more ample, and we may pass at once to the times of 
Richard and John. 

Only with the definite evidence of the late twelfth and <d the 
thirteenth century do we first come upon townships whose arable 
fields were clearly two or three. Since both sorts were then 
reasonably numerous, it is at length possible to ascertain the area 
throughout which the two- and three-field system prevailed in 
mediaeval England. Later testimony fills in doubtful stretches 
of the boundary, until by the sixteenth century the circuit can be 
pretty well determined. From the available data which have 
been collected in Appendix n its reconstruction may now be 

In the north the county of Northumberland must for the time 
be excluded. The three fields which some documents seem to 

1 Giadwick, Origm of Ike English Nalion, pp. 3, 5, map iMdng p. 11. 
' The result is shown on the nuip facing the title-page. 


disclose there manifest certain questionable features, and will 
best be discussed in a later chapter which treats of the field 
system of the Border.^ In Durham we are on secure ground, 
although the evidence is relatively late. The survey of Ingleton, 
which has already been quoted to illustrate the three-field system/ 
is one of a series, several members of which are similar to it. All 
^e townships thus described lie in the southern part of the coimty 
in the flat region which stretches from Durham to the Tees. The 
episcopal dty thus becomes the northern outpost of the three- 
field system. 

In Yorkshire, the East Riding and much of the North Riding 
furnish evidence of the exbtence of two- or three-field townships. 
The West Riding is more chary in this respect, for in the moun- 
tainous western part the system cannot be discerned. 

Keeping to the east, the boimdary of two- and three-field tillage 
follows the coast until, on reaching Boston, it tiuns inland to 
exclude the fen country. Parts of the counties of Lincoln, North- 
ampton, Himtingdon, and Cambridge (the Isle of Ely) now fall 
outside of it, though by far the larger part of each county re- 
mains within it. From southeastern Cambridgeshire the line 
turns sharply to the southwest, follows the hills which separate 
Hertfordshire from Bedfordshire, passes on along the ridges of 
the Chiltems through southern Buckinghamshire and Oxford- 
shire, crosses Berkshire east of Reading, keeps near the eastern 
boimdary of Hampshire, until, on reaching the South Downs, it 
follows them eastward into Sussex as they stretch on to lose 
themselves in the Channel at Beachy Head. All the south- 
eastern counties from Norfolk to Surrey, together with a large 
part of Sussex, are thus excluded. 

The western boundary of the two- and three-field area begins 
in western Dorsetshire, passes north across Somerset including 
two-thirds of that county, crosses by the forest of Dean into 
Herefordshire, embraces most of this county and its neighbor 
Shropshire, passes northeast through Staffordshire and Derby- 
shire into Yorkshire, where it cuts off the western edge of the 
county as it continues to Durham. Three areas are excluded 

1 Cf. below, pp. 310 sq. * Cf. p. 36, above. 


on the west and north: Cornwall, Devon, and western Somerset; 
Wales with Monmouthshire; and the counties of the northwest, 
Cheshire, Lancashire, western Yorkshire, Westmorland, Cum- 
berland, and possibly Northmnberland. Within the boundaries 
thus drawn lay at least half the soil of England, and the coun- 
ties comprised are for the most part known as the northern 
and southern midlands. For brevity, therefore, and because 
it is not altogether inappropriate, the term midland system will 
often be employed henceforth in referring to two- and three-field 

There is one stretch of the boundary just indicated which is not 
borne out by the citations of Appendix 11. This is the link which 
embraces the coimties ojf Hereford and Shropshire. The early 
evidence in support of the existence of a three-field system in 
these coimties is relatively so meagre that it seems best to set it 
forth separately and in detail. It will be remembered that 
testimony has already been adduced from Jacobean surveys to 
show the presence of three-field townships in the two counties. 
Especially at Stockton and its hamlets in northern Herefordshire 
have three fields been discerned, and the Shropshire hamlets 
bordering upon Claverley Holme and Warfield Holme appear 
also to have had rather consistently three arable fields. But 
little further sixteenth-century evidence is available, and, as we 
shall see, there were many irregularities in Herefordshire fields 
at that time.^ Still later, too, only three or four of all the 
Herefordshire enclosure awards bespeak three fields.* For these 
reasons early evidence is the more to be desired. The system, if 
exbtent, soon began to decline and can have been intact only in its 
youthful days. What, then, say the early charters and extents ? 

The Herefordshire evidence is more slight than that from the 
neighboring county. We have no difficulty in discovering that 
a three-course rotation of crops was later in favor on demesne 
lands, but the demesne in question probably did not lie in open 
field.' An extent of Luston, a manor of Leominster priory, how- 

' Cf. pp. 93 sq,f below. ' Cf. pp. 142-143, bdow. 

' The surveyors of the lands of the home manor of the abbey of Dore explain: 
" And idler also some parte of the arable lands of the sayd demeain ... is not 


ever, states that in i Edward III 150 of the demesne acres lay 
in Tuffenhull field, 140 in BreshuU field, and 125 in Wondersback 
field, a description which seems indicative of a three-field town- 

A similar situation may be perceived in a charter of 1273 
which transfers the " quartam partem miius virgate terre de 
Luda que iacet inter agros de Mortima." * This quarter- virgate 
of Lyde, which lay within the fields of the neighboring hamlet of 
Morton, had its acres equally divided among three fields: — 

'' viii acre simt in cultura que didtur parve spire ager [the 
following re-grant adding] quarum v sunt ultra Waribroc, tres 
vero dtra in cultura que didtur Preostecrof t 
et vii acre sunt in cultura que didtur West field 
et vii acre sunt in cultura que didtur Sudfeld quarum iii simt 
sub Dodenhulle et iii apud pontem de Ludebroc. " 

lyck good as the more parte therof is and for that the same arable lands, by all 
marks as the(y] severally lye, every thyrd year lye fallow, we in consyderatyn 
therof have valued all the same arable lands togethers in grose al on' hole com- 
munibus annis. . . . There be in severall fylds of the sayd demeains of arable 
lands cccczz acres valued communibus annis at iiii li " (Rents, and Survs., Ro. 225, 
32 Hen. Vm). 

^ John Price, An Historical and Topographical Account of Leominster and Us 
Vicinity (Ludlow, 1795), pp. 151 sq. In the priory's other townships two- or three- 
field arrangements are not suggested. At H(^ the demesne consisted of 150 acres 
in Hhenhope and 120 in Brounesfield, in4>robable names for township fields. At 
Stockton, in the parish of Kimbolton, the fields were three (or five), but the division 
of acres among them was unequal. In Whitebroc field were 1 25 acres, in the field 
of Conemers and in Alvedon 192, in the field of Redweye and in Stalling 208. 
Ivington seems at first glance to have had three fields, since the demesne arable 
comprised 144 acres in West field, 132 in the " field against the Par," and 146 acres 
in Merrell. It chances, however, that the fields of Ivington are again met with 
in a fifteenth-century Leominster cartulary, where transfers of six acres and four 
acres give specific locations (Cott. MS., Domit. A HI, fit. 231, 23 id). Of the six 
acres, two lay " in campo qui vocatur le merele," two " iuxta parcum de Ivynton/' 
and two " in campo de Brereley qui didtur Westefeld " in two parcels. Of the 
four, two were " in campo qui vocatur le Wortheyn " and two ** in campo qui 
vocatur le Stockjnog." The fields of the first grant are those in which, according 
to the earlier document, the demesne was situated. Hence it is disconcerting to 
learn that West field is a field of Brierley, an adjacent hamlet. When further we 
find two new fields appearing in the second grant, the three-field character of 
Ivington, suggested at first, becomes problematical. 

* W. W. Capes, Charters and Records cf Hereford Cathedral (Hereford, 1908), 
p. 23. 


Although this description gains in value because the division of 
a fractional virgate is in question, it must be admitted tiiat two 
instances would constitute slight proof of the early existence of a 
three-field system in the county, did they stand alone. 

From near-by Shropshire, however, more satisfactory early 
data are available. There can, of course, be no doubt about the 
existence of common fields in this county. Later descriptions of 
monastic properties drawn up in 31 Henry VIII continually 
locate the arable acres " in conununibus campis." ^ Occasionally 
they give more specific information and mention three fields. At 
Norton in the parish of Wroxeter there were held at the will of the 
lord two messuages, two crofts, and '' in quolibet campo com- 
muni trium camporum ibidem . . . ten dayeserth." * Just over 
the county border in the parish of Gnosall, Staffordshire, lilles- 
hall monastery had a messuage, a croft, and arable land " in 
tribus campis conununibus ibidem." ' A copyhold of the monas- 
tery of Much Wenlock comprised 

'' XX acras terre arabilis iacentes in campo ibidem vocato West- 

xviii acras ibidem in Alden hill feld versus Estp' 

xxii acras in campo vocato overfeld. " * 

In general, however, these monastic properties are described 
with brevity, and we turn to earlier documents. In 5 Edward III 
a three-course rotation of crops was employed upon the demesne 
lands at Emewood and Hughley, one-third of the acres being 
sown with wheat.* But this proves little. More instructive 
is the fact that in the fourteenth century the demesne lands of 
the manors of three of the largest abbeys in the county, Shrews- 
bury, Lilleshall, and Much Wenlock, were so tilled that one-third 
of the arable each year lay both fallow and in conunon.* Although 
such tillage is not conclusive proof that the demesne was distrib- 
uted among three open conunon arable fields, it does, we have 

> Land Rev., M. B. 1S4, ff.4, 5, 7, 9, 12, 184/, 190/, 210, 2286, 334, 236, etc 

* Ibid., f. i8. » Ibid., f. 15^. 

* Ibid.» f. 1346. 

* Ezcfa. Anc Extents, no. 68. 

* ** Tertia pars iacet quolibet anno ad waiectam et in communi" (Add. MS. 
6165, flF. 37, 43» 51). 


seen, make this probable.^ With regard to the demesne arable 
of another manor little doubt about the apportionment remains. 
At Faintree, in 2 Edward I, the jurors say that '' in uno campo 
sunt xxxiiii acre terre arabilis et in alio campo xxx acre et in tertio 
campo xzvi." * Thus in one way or another we get glimpses of 
considerable tripartite division of the demesne in fourteenth- 
century Shropshire.* 

Always more relevant to the study of field systems than the 
items about the demesne is information about tenants' holdings. 
Fortunately there are four or five descriptions of early Shropshire 
virgates or parts thereof. One is contained in an accoimt of the 
land at Poynton from which Shrewsbury abbey in 13 Henry IV 
claimed tithes.^ Most of it was demesne, which lay in furlongs 
or " bruches " pretty equally divided between Tunstall field, 
Middle field, and Mulle field. But there is this further speci- 
fication: — 

^' Item de uno mesuagio et medietate unius virgate terre quam 
Willielmus Bird tenet omnes dedmas in le Mullefeild 

Item de medietate unius virgate terre quam idem Willielmus 
tenet, viz. de Marlebrook furlonge . . . tertiam garbam 

Item de tota terra dicte medietatis virgate terre quam idem 
Willielmus tenet iacenti in le Middlefeild onmes dedmas . . . 

^ Cf. p. 46, above. 

" C. Ids\. p. Mort., Edw. I, F. 4 (14). 

* It could not always be found in the sixteenth century, however. An extent 
of the demesne of the home manor of the monastery of Wenlock, made when the 
property was taken over by the crown, runs as follows (Land Rev., M. B. 1S4, 
f. 61): — 

" [i 59 acres in eleven doses.] The nombre of acres lyeing in the com3m fyld 
First the West Fyld callyd eadege fyld of arable gronde count' 105 acres valewyd 

at 4 d. the acre 
Item the South fyld count' 95 acres valewyd at 4 d. the acre 
Item a leysowe by the myle pole sown with wheat cont' 10 acres [at 6 d. the 

Item the further Standh>il lyeing in the oom3m feld northward count' 16 acres 

[at I d.] 
Item the shorte Walmore dyked and quycksett about cont' 7 acres [at 10 d.] 
Item the pole Dame dyked and quyduett about oont' xii acres [at 10 d.] 
Item the cawscroft b3md3n[ig upon the myll oont' iii acres [at 12 d.]. " 
^ Add. MS. 3031 1, f. 241. 


Item de medietate unius virgate terre qaam idem l^^llidmus 
tenet in Tonstallfidd et de quodam furiongo in Horsecrof t 

Et de una landa tene vocata Longelane in Horsecroft tertiam 
garlMun. ..." 

This descripticHi is not entirely ludd. It seems, howevo^, to r^er 
to a single half-virgate, since '' dicte medietatis '' joins the lands 
in Middle field with those in Mulle field. If so, the half-virgate 
lay in the same three fields as the demesne lands from which 
tithes were due, with ai^>arently something in addition in Marie- 
brook furlong. Such duplication of three fields in the two 
descriptions goes far to stamp the township as one in whidi a 
three-field system prevafled. 

The Shropshire feet of fines occasionally transfer virgates or 
parts of them. At DarUston the third part of a virgate and four 
acres were described as " vi acras versus Hethe, vi acras versus 
Pres, vi acras versus Sanford, et vi acras de essarto sub North- 
wude." ^ This enumeration wears the aq>ect of four fields rather 
than three. Yet it is noteworthy that the three names used to 
indicate directions are those of townships near by, and this makes 
it probable that the first three groiq>s of acres may have been 
situated one in each of three c^)ai arable fields. Inasmudi as the 
fourth groiq> of six acres formed part of an assart, it p^iiaps 
represents an early addition to the three original fields. Less 
irr^ular was the fourth part of a virgate at Romsley. It com- 
f^ised '' in can^x> qui vocatur Sandstide vi acras et in canqx) 
qui vocatur Eastfdd viii acras . . . et in campo qui vocatur 
Coldray viii acras et mesuagimn quod fuit Roberti Clerenbald." * 
This is the normal virgate terrier of a three-fidd townshq>, with 
nothing unusual except perhi^ the names of the fields. In 
ndther of these westan counties, however, were the fidd names 
so direct and simple as in the midlands. They were particularly 
aiHLward at The Last. Here a half-virgate di^x)6ed its acres so 
that there were " undedm in campo versus gravam de Lastes, 
septem in can^x> versus crucem de Lastes, et novem in campo 
versus Chetone."' Such a relatively equal division of acres 

> PecL Fin., 193-2-10, 1 John. » Md., 193-3-79, 21 Hen. m. 


seems to domicile the three-field system in the northeastern part 
of the county. If so, this is an ouQx>st toward Cheshire beyond 
which the system did not much advance. From the southeast 
of the county we have another important terrier, describing the 
sixteen acres which were part of a half-virgate at Presthope as 
" vii acras terre in Arildewelle, v acras terre in Chesterfordfeld, 
iv acras terre in Hinesmere." ^ The names are scarcely simple, 
but the division of virgate acres is after the three-field pattern. 
Finally, the virgate which accompanied a messuage and curti- 
lage in a grant at Shawbury near Shrewsbury comprised 

'^ Sexdedm acras terre campestris in quolibet campo, viz., 

in campo versus Foret super Crokes forlonge vii acras terre 

et inter terram de Cherletone . . . et Cressewalbroke iz acras 
cum particulis ad capita seilonmn 
Et in campo versus Hadenhale vi acras similiter iacentes in 


et quatuor acras terre extendentes inter altam viam et le 

et iii acras super le Middelheth 

et duas acras terre super Sicheforlonge 
Et in campo versus parvam Withiford iiii acras terre . . . 

et unam acram terre iuxta Ingri3rthemedewe 

et iii acras terre super Molkebur' 

cum \ma forera ad capud dictarum acrarum 

et tres acras terre abuttantes super viam prope gardinmn 

et tres acras terre abuttantes usque ad portam . . . 

cum forera ad capud dictarum terrarum. ... " * 

There could be no more straightforward declaration of a three- 
field system than this terrier. Only in what has already mani- 
fested itself as a Shropshire peculiarity, the predilection for nam- 
ing fields with reference to adjoining townships, is there any 
variation from the norm. These illustrations must suffice. They 
are the best available in proof of an early extension of the midland 
system toward the Welsh border. 

» Ped. FiiL, 193-3-16, 6 Hen. m. 

' Add. MS. 33354» ^ 81* Earlier than 1254. 


With this assurance that the boundary of the two- and three- 
field system bent westward to include Herefordshire and Shrop- 
shire, we may at length return to the entire area comprised within 
that boundary and attempt to make a discrimination. How 
much of this extensive territory was, during the Middle Ages, 
claimed by two-field and how much by three-field husbandry ? 
Hitherto these methods of tillage have been treated as one. A 
glance at Appendix H, in which an effort has been made to col- 
lect early rather than late instances of the occurrence of both, 
will show that the list of two-field townships is not short. It is, 
indeed, probably longer than the three-field list, but the niunber 
of citations imports little when the finding of them is so hazard- 
ous. What signifies is the area over which each method of tillage 
was extended. As it happens, neither system always dominated 
large and compact stretches of territory; nearly every county 
within the boimdary above drawn had both two- and three-field 
townships. Nevertheless, there were preponderances. The 
southwestern counties were very largely devoted to two-field 
tillage. Most of eastern Somerset, all the Cotswold area which 
stretches through Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, and Gloucester- 
shire, all the down lands of Berkshire, Wiltshire, and Dorset, 
were in the thirteenth century in two fields. Even Hampshire, 
Buckinghamshire, and Bedfordshire may have been at least half 
given over to this simpler agriculture, while such was certainly 
the case with Northamptonshire. Lincolnshire, apart from the 
fen country, was a two-field county. 

A slightly smaller area was characterized by the three-field 
system at an early time. One finds it prevalent in northeastern 
Hampshire, in Cambridgeshire, in Himtingdonshire, and especi- 
ally in the valleys of the Trent and the Yorkshire Ouse. Here it 
prospered, till its domain came to be the eastern midlands, the 
north, and the west. In northern Northamptonshire, in Leicester- 
shire, Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire, and Durham, in Staffordshire, 
Herefordshire, and Shropshire, it was easily supreme. Broadly 
speaking, the line of Watling Street forms an approximate bound- 
ary between the two large areas characterized respectively by the 
preponderance of two and three fields. Yet we must hasten to 


make restrictions. The considerable expanse of Lincolnshire in 
the north remained alien to the three-field system; similarly, in 
the west, Herefordshire, Shropshire, and Staffordshire showed no 
two-field affiliations. The subtractions from both areas nearly 
balance each other and leave the midlands divided into two not 
imequal parts. 

A patent conclusion to be drawn from this localization of two- 
and three-field methods of tillage is that they were not expres- 
sions of racial or tribal predilection. Any attempt to discern in 
them usages peculiar to Saxons, Angles, or Danes meets at once 
with grave difficulties. The three-field system preponderated to 
the northeast of Watling Street. Yet if one should surmise that 
this is attributable to tribal habits of Angles or Danes, he would 
at once be reminded that many Lincolnshire townships (with 
names ending in by) had two fields as clear-cut as any situated 
on the Wessex downs. If, on the other hand, it be suggested 
that two-field usages were native to the Saxons, the early three- 
field townships of Hampshire and the three-field character of the 
Sussex coastal plain are sufficient refutation. In reality, what 
determined the adoption of the one or the other form of tillage 
was agricultural convenience, and this in turn depended largely 
upon the locality and the nature of the soil. 

For it must be remembered that between these two modes of 
husbandry the difference was not one of principle but one of pro- 
portion. Under two-field arrangements there was left fallow each 
year one-half of the arable, under three-field arrangements one- 
third. The cultivated portion, whether one-half or two-thirds, 
was sown in the same manner; it was divided between winter 
and spring grains. Walter of Henley, writing in the thirteenth 
century, makes this clear: ^' If your lands are divided in three, 
one part for winter seed, the other part for spring seed, and the 
third part fallow, then is a ploughland nine score acres. And if 
your lands are divided in two, as in many places, the one half 
sown with winter seed and spring seed, the other half fallow, then 
shall a ploughland be eight score acres."^ The distinction between 

1 Walter of Hettiey's Husbandry, together with an Anonymous Husbandry, etc. 
(ed. £. LanKKid, 1890), p. 7. 


two-field and three-field modes of tillage reduces, in short, to the 
utilization of an additional one-sixth of the arable each year. 
The resort to fallowing, the equitable apportionment of strips to 
fields, the pasturage arrangements — all the essential features of 
the system — remained unchanged. A divergence so slight is 
scarcely one which would evince tribal or racial peculiarities. 
It would indicate, rather, differing agricultural opportunities as 
interpreted by men whose fundamental ideas about agriculture 
were the same. This consideration leads to the inquiry whether 
the simpler two-field tillage gave place, as civilization advanced, 
to the somewhat more elaborate three-field one. 

As there was little difference in size between the areas within 
which two-field and three-field husbandry prevailed in the thir- 
teenth century, so the extant evidence does not clearly indicate 
priority of one 'over the other in point of time. Of the situa- 
tion before the feet of fines begin at the end of the twelfth cen- 
tury we know little. Although one or two Anglo-Saxon charters 
seem to refer to two fields, they constitute no ground for a general- 
ization. Certain inferences, however, are possible in this con- 
nection, n we admit that a two-field arrangement was simpler 
than a three-field one, and discover that at a later time town- 
ships sometimes exchanged the former for the latter, we shall not 
be unready to believe that the three fields which were existent 
by 1 200 may themselves have been the outcome of a similar trans- 
formation. Were this the case, the original system of the English 
midlands should be looked upon as one of two conunon arable 
fields. For this reason the occurrence of the transformation at a 
later time becomes a point of importance. 

Two- and three-field arrangements did not, as we have just 
seen, correspond with tribal usages, but simply with agricultural 
opportunity. Hence a change from one to the other was a 
matter of opportunism. As demands upon the soil increased, 
and as it was observed that the three-field system brought under 
tillage one-sixth more of the arable each year than did the two- 
field system, the question must have arisen whether it would pay 
to change a township's arable fields from two to three. It might, 
of course, have been argued that in the long run a two-field 


arrangement was as remunerative as a three-field one. Though 
more of the soil was left fallow each year, did not the arable repay 
its cultivators better for the more frequent periods of rest ? Were 
not the crops grown on land fallowed every other year better than 
those produced by land fallowed only once in three years ? Such 
reasoning may at times have got empirical support from the 
marked prosperity of certain two-field townships. But the gen- 
eral practice told against it. The regions which adhered to two- 
field husbandry were, on the whole, the bleak, chalky, imfertile 
uplands; those, on the contrary, which were possessed of better 
soil and better location came to be characterized by three fields. 
This can only mean that, wherever natural advantages permitted, 
men chose the three-field system by preference. The retention 
of two fields was usually a tadt recognition that nature had 
favored the township little. 

To change from two-field to three-field husbandry was there- 
fore tantamount to making greater demands upon the arable — 
to taking a step forward in agricultural progress. Some desire 
for improvement was, of course, bound to come in time; but in 
a great mmiber of two-field townships it delayed long, becoming 
operative only in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Sur- 
vejrs, maps, and enclosure awards instruct us as to the character 
of these late changes, and their teaching is summarized, so far as 
certain typical regions are concerned, in the two following chap- 
ters. In these are described certain townships, particularly in 
Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, which during the sixteenth, 
seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries abandoned the two-field 
system. What they adopted was not a three-field arrangement, 
but one of four fields or quarters, the outcome of a subdivision 
of the old fields.^ Before the sixteenth century, however, there 
is no example, within the midland area, of just this method of 
improvement. If changes took place, the recasting seems to have 
resulted in three fields. Evidence of such procedure b, therefore, 
what must be sought, but unfortunately it is the very kind of 
evidence which, in the nature of the case, must needs be scanty. 
To chance upon an early and a later reference to the same town- 

* Cf. pp. 88, 125 sg. 


ship, one implying the existence of two fields and the other of 
three, is a rare piece of fortune when single references to field 
systems are so few. Under these circumstances the following 
instances seem worthy of consideration. 

That township fields were sometimes recast in a manner which 
involved much surveying and labor is evident from the case of 
two Northimiberland manors. In the middle of the sixteenth 
century both considered proposals to re-allot parcels in the open 
fields with a view to the greater convenience of the tenants. One 
rejected the suggestion because of the difficulties involved; the 
other undertook the change and we have record of the new 
arrangement.^ The instance b relatively late and the system 
evolved was probably not one of three fields; yet the readiness 
to imdertake a readjustment more difficult than a simple sub- 
division of two existing fields is noteworthy. 

A memorandum of the late fourteenth century from Corsham, 
Wiltshire, while it does not portray the transformation of two 
open fields into three, is yet instructive in showing the advent of 
three-course tillage in a two-field township.^ It relates to the 
sowing of 103 acres of demesne arable, of which 47 were in a 
close and worth 6 J. the acre, while 56 were in two open fields 
and worth 2d. the acre. The open-field acres are described 
as follows: — 

** Sunt etiam in le Southefeld de dominids xv acre terre semi- 
nate cum frumento hoc anno in diversis particulis 

Item ibidem xi acre terre deputate pro ordo seminature hoc 
anno unde seminantur ii acre 

Item in le Northefeld xxx acre terre et dimidia que iacent ad 
warectandimi hoc anno in diversis particulis." 

This is simple two-field tillage. With the close the case is 
different : — 

** Est ibidem in dominids in quodam dauso separabili xiii acre 

seminate cum frumento hoc anno 
item ibidem in eodem clauso x acre seminate cum drageto 

^ History of Northutnberland (10 vols., Newcastle, etc, 1893-1914), ii. 418, 368. 
Cf. bdow, pp. 207-209. 

' Rents, and Survs., Portf. 16/55. 


et ibidem x acre que iacent pro warecto hoc anno 

item in eodem clauso in Netherforlong' xiiii acre imde una 

medietas seminata cum drageto et alia medietas iacet in 


Here the 14 acres in Netherfurlong were tilled as were the common 
fields, but the greater part of the close had adopted a three- 

Sketeb of the Bnclotore Hap of the 
Township of Stow, Unoolnahlie. 1804. 


Map IV 

course rotation. One can see that such an example might some 
day inspire the tenants to make a similar disposition of the open 

That at some time a change from two to three fields had taken 
place in certain townships is suggested by the enclosure maps of 
the eighteenth century. Now and then three fields are of such 
a character that two of them seem to have been derived from a 
single older one. The accompanying plan of Stow, Lincolnshire, 
is illustrative.^ If one compares it with the plan of two-field 
Croxton,' one cannot help suspecting that Stow too had once 
only two fields. Opposite to West field there had been an East 

1 C. P. Recov. Ro., 49 Geo. m, Hfl. 

' Cf. above, p. 36. 


field, now replaced by Normanby field and Skelton field. We may 
even conjecture how the shifting of areas had been achieved. 
West field had been reduced in extent by the enclosure of a part 
of it and by the setting off of a part for Normanby field; the 
former East field had in turn been so enlarged by additions from 
the common that each of the new divisions became approximately 
equal in area to the shrunken West field. 

Much the same transformation can be traced in a plan of Pad* 
bury, Buckinghamshire, made in 1591. Here the old fields still 
retained their original names, East and West; but to the north 
of East field, bet wwnit a n d the woodland, had appeared a new 
common arable area called Hedge field. There is no reason to 
think that the old fields had been reduced in size. Improve- 
ment of the waste rather than subtraction from them seems to 
have been the creative factor in the change, for the names of the 
new furlongs, which are recorded, often suggest portions of a 

Although these illustrations do not take us out of the realm 
of conjecture, several others serve to do so by making it entirely 
dear that townships tmce liaving two fields came to have three. 
Sometimes the interval between the dates of the docmnents which 
picture the two stages of agricultural development is a long one. 
At Twyford, Leicestershire, a grant to the abbey of Burton 
Lazars, copied into a fifteenth-century cartulary, relates to two 
selions in the West field and one rood in the East field. The en- 
closure award of 1796, however, describes the fields of Twyford 
as three, Nether, Spinney, and Mill.^ Similarly the enclosure 
award for Piddington, Oxfordshire, dated 1758, has reference to 
three fields, the Wheat field, the Bean field, and the Fallow field; * 
but a charter of 6-7 Henry I conveys to St. Mary of Missenden 
inter alia the tithes from two acres of demesne meadow there, viz., 
from two acres in Westmead when the West field was sown 
and from two in Langdale when the East field was sown.^ At 

^ Cf . on the accompanying map the furiongs called Pitthill, Swatthill, Shermore, 
Cockmore hill, and Foxholes. 

* Cf. below, Appendix II, pp. 471, 473. 

* The award is at the Shire Hall, Oxford. 
^ Appendix n, p. 488. 




Piddington, as at Twyford, two township fields had at some tune 
between the thirteenth and eighteenth centuries been replaced 
by three. 

Elsewhere it is possible to discover that the transformation 
took place before the sixteenth centiuy. At Litlington, Cam- 
bridgeshire, in 1 1 Edward III, only one-half of the demesne lands 
were sown annually, the remainder being of no value since they 
lay in common. By the time of Henry VIII, however, the 
demesne arable, so far as it lay in the common fields, comprised 
41 acres in Westwoode field, 31 in Grenedon field, and 35 in Hyn- 
don field.^ In three Northamptonshire townships the period of 
change is likewise restricted to the interval between the thirteenth 
and sixteenth centuries. At Holdenby a thirteenth-century 
charter enmnerates 36 acres of demesne arable in small parcels, 
assigning them in equal measure to the East field and the West 
field. In 32 Henry VUI another account of the demesne there 
refers it to West field. Wood field, and Cargatt field.* At Dray- 
ton a charter of the time of Henry lU divides 4) acres equally 
between North field and South field, allotting to each five parcels. 
A survey of 13 Elizabeth, on the other hand, subdivides all hold- 
ings with proximate equaUty among West field. North field, and 
East field, the respective areas of which were 529, 573, and 414 
acres.* At Evenley, finally, several thirteenth-century charters 
convey arable in equal amounts in East field and West field; 
but a terrier of Henry VHI enmnerates in many parcels 47 acres, 
of which 17 lay in West field, 13 in South field, and 17 in East 

While these four groups of documents pretty dearly assign the 
change from two-field to three-field arrangements to an undefined 
period between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries, other 
charters and terriers reveal it accomplished or in process of 
accomplishment before the fifteenth century. At Long Lawford, 
Warwickshire, the open fields of the early thirteenth century were 
two ; but a charter copied in to a late fourteenth-century cartulary 
pictures them as three, and divides the munerous parcels of 49 

» Appendix II, pp. 457, 459. » Ibid., pp. 477, 482. 

* Ibid., pp. 479, 483. ^ Ibid., pp. 478, 482. 


acres among the three with rough equality.* By i Henry IV a 
new third field seems to be making its appearance in an interest- 
ing terrier of the lands which the prior of Bicester had in the 
open fields of his home manor, Market End. According to 
the enclosure map of 1758 these fields nmnbered three.^ In the 
terrier in question they were also three, but, so far as the prior's 
lands were concerned, of unequal importance. His acres in the 
North field nmnbered 153, in the East field 113, and ** in alio 
campo vocato Langefordfeld " 60.' To all appearances an old 
South field was separating into two parts, with as yet no equi- 
table adjustment of areas. If no positive record stirvives to 
assure us that the Bicester fields were once two, no such deficiency 
attaches to the evidence from Kislingbury, Northamptonshire. 
Here the fields were East and West, according to what is probably 
a thirteenth-century charter copied into a fourteenth-century 
. cartulary; but a terrier of 14 Edward HI refers to ten acres, 
of which I i lay in the West field, 3! in the East field, and 4! in 
the South field.^ As at Bicester, the small apportionment of 
acres to one of the three fields hints at a recent origin. The same 
situation is perceptible at Houghton Regis, Bedfordshire. A 
Dimstable cartulary written in a hand of the time of Edward I 
records the transfer of a half-virgate, eight of whose acres were 
in an unnamed field and eight in North field. In the same cartu- 
lary is entered another grant which refers its acres to North field, 
West field, and South field.^ Since the last area receives only 
one half-acre parcel in contrast with the greater amounts assigned 
to the other fields (if, 2I acres), here too a new field seems to be 
making its appearance. 

The tendency of two-field townshq>s to change into three-field 
ones diujng the late thirteenth or the early fourteenth century is 

^ Appendix n, p. 500. 

* They were called Home, Middle, and Further. The award is at the Shire Hall, 

* White Kennett, Parochial AtUiqmHes aUempted in the History of Ambrosden, 
Burcester, amd other adjaceni farts in the Counties of Oxford and Buchs (new ed., 
2 vols., Oxford, x8i8), 0. x8$-X99. It is not certain that Kennett has trans- 
cribed from hb original all the furlongs in the East fidd. His transcript breaks off 
abruptly and does not record the total here, as it does dsewhere. 

^ Cf. bebm, Appendix II, pp. 479» 483. * Ibid., pp. 450, 451. 


perhaps most unmistakably seen in two other groiq)s of charters. 
At Stewkley, Buckinghamshire, in 7 Richard 1, 80 acres of arable 
demesne in many furlongs lay in campo de SuheUy and 80 more 
in campo dd Est. In a charter copied into an early fourteenth- 
century cartulary, however, 18) acres of arable at the same place 
are described as consbting of 6 in the northern part of the field, 

6 in the eastern part, and 6 in the southern part.^ The precision 
of the first division is paralleled by that of the second, and is 
explicable only by assuming a change from two-field to three-field 
arrangements. At Culworth, Northamptonshire, it seems pos- 
sible to fix still more definitely the date of a similar change. A 
long charter of 24 Edward I enumerates 62 acres in many parcels 
divided between North field and South field. Another grant of 

7 Edward III is brief, but none the less apportions to North field 
one acre, to South field three roods, and to West field one rood.* 
It was apparently during the rdgn of Edward 11 that West field 
first made its appearance. 

Finally, we have express statements that three fields were sub- 
stituted for two. The first relates to South Stoke, Oxfordshire, 
where in 1366, as an extent notes, two of the three fields were 
sown annually and the third lay fallow.' Somewhat more than 
a century before this, however, the fields had nmnbered but two. 
A plea roll of 25 Henry HI records, in a jurors' report relative to a 
complaint about pasture rights, that '' predictus Abbas [John of 
Eynsham, predecessor of Abbot Nicholas, the defendant] parti- 
tus fuit terras suas in tres partes, que antea partite fuerunt in 
duas partes."^ The only doubt attaching to this account 
is the possibility that the lands referred to may have been 
demesne. Free from any such imcertainty is the record of what 
happened at Piddletown, Dorset. The township was once in 
two fields, as we learn from a charter copied into a cartulary of 
Christchurch priory.^ In 20 Edward I, however, as the same 
cartulary narrates, the priory's lands were formally re-divided into 
three parts.* The nature of the field names, the statement that 

^ Appendix II, pp. 455, 456. * Ibid., pp. 477, 482. * Ibid., p. 490. 

* Assize Ro. 696^ m. 14a] dted in Victoria History 0/ Oxfordshire, ii. 171* 

* Appendix II, p. 462. 

* Cott MS., Hb. D VI, f. 200. " Divisio terre domini Priods et conventus 


the '' campus " is divided^ the size <A the fields, and the fact that 
not only the bailiffs but also the ^ other men of the prior and 
convent " took part in the re-division, make it highly probable 
that the arable fields of the entire township were recast. 

The cumulative effect of all this evidence is to establish the 
fact that transferences from two- to three-field arrangements in 
midland townships did take place. Instances have been dted from 
an area extending from Leicestershire to Dorset and. from War- 
wickshire to Cambridgeshire. The period, too, during which the 
changes seem most often to have occurred has been determined. 
It comprises the thirteenth century and the early foxirteenth. 
Of the instances which can be approximately dated, that referring 
to South Stoke and belonging to the first half of the thirteenth 
century is the earliest, while the others fall between 1250 and 
1350. It is precisely during this most prosperous century of 
the Middle Ages that one would expect agricultural progress. In 
midland England, it is quite probable new demands were then 
made upon the soil leading to nmnerous changes like those de- 
scribed above. 

We thus approach a final question. Since a transformation 
from two to three fields is discernible in the records that have 
survived, may not a similar change once have taken place in 
all townships which, when we know them, lay in three fields ? 
The hypothesis is entirely credible. It is especially so since there 
were in the thirteenth century no large imbroken three-field areas 
which would point to an ancient history for that system. Three- 
field tillage did, of course, come to preponderate in the northern 
and eastern midlands; but very few counties of that region were 

Christ! ecdeaie de Twynham facta in manerio de Pudelton' per Johannem le Mar- 
chaunt et philipum de la Berne tunc ballivos dicti manerii et alios dictorum prions 
et conventus fideles anno regni regis Edwardi filii Regis Henrid vicesimo et limita- 
tur campus in tres partes, videlicet. 

Primus limes eztendit se in regia via de Puddton usque Cochestubbe et deinde 
. . . [boundaries] et continentur in parte ilia ccxlviii acre de quibus acre iiii" 
non sunt digne coli quia sterfles et prave sunt. 

Et est canq>us orientalis cum toto campo australi sibi adiuncto medius campus 
cuius limes indpit i^ud . . . ssdberghe et tendit se . . . [boundaries] et con- 
tinentur in medio campo in universo dzzvii acre terre et sunt digne coli. 

Tertius campus est campus ocddentalis. In campo ocddentali continentur cc 
et V acre de quibus acre zzx non sunt digne coli." 


without s(nne two-field townships, and much of the three-field 
evidence is of a date later than the thirteenth century. Hence 
it is not improbable that the predominantly three-field counties 
became such during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. If 
so, the system was a derived one, and midland England at the 
time of the Conquest was a region dominated by two fields. 

The questions with which this chapter opened have at length 
received such answers i^ accessible data admit of. There is dis- 
cernible in Anglo-Saxon England an open-field system, which 
first at the end of the twelfth century reveals itself as one of two 
or three fields; the territory throughout which this system 
prevailed was the extensive region known as the northern and 
southern midlands; the co-existence of two-field and three-field 
townships within this area as early as 1200 is apparent, but 
the preponderance of one group or the other in certain parts of it 
before the sixteenth century is no les^ obvious; finally, it is cer- 
tain that to some extent transition from two-field to three-field 
arrangements occurred during the thirteenth and early fourteenth 
centuries, and it is not improbable that the three-field system 
may have been altogether a derived one, arising from an im- 
provement in agricultural method. As the sixteenth century 
saw both forms of tillage employed, and as further changes had 
by that time set in, we are naturally led to inquire into the later 
history of what may henceforth be called the midland system. 


Eahly Irregular Fields within the Midland Area 

It is well known from contemporary descriptions that the large 
midland area, just described as characterized by the two- and 
three-field system, showed other forms of open field in the eight- 
eenth century.^ These were the result of efforts made to recon- 
cile the system with the advancing agriculture of that day. 
Although we shall have to examine these late innovations, it 
would be rash to assume that they were the first of their kind 
until we have inquired whether, as early as 1600, irregularities 
were apparent in the fields of townships within the midland area. 

Such irregularities Tudor and Jacobean surveys show existent 
before 1610. Since regions favoriably situated for agricultural 
development must have tended to foster them, their appearance 
in river valleys, frequentiy fertile and abounding in meadows, 
wotild not be surprising. They may be looked for in the neigh- 
borhood of the Tees, the Trent, and the Humber; at favored spots 
along the course of the upper Thames; beside the Severn and its 
tributaries, the Warwickshire Avon and the Wiltshire Avon; and 
in the well-watered plains of central Herefordshire or eastern 
Somerset. In Appendix III have been arranged extracts from 
surveys illustrative of these early irregularities, many of them 
from one or other of the regions above mentioned.* The 
field arrangements, however, of the lower Thames, a river basin 
without the midland area, require separate treatment.' 

A circumstance other than situation in a favored valley may 
conceivably have given rise to irregularity of field system. Sev- 
eral tracts of land within the midland area were in early days 
given over to the royal forests. In course of time settiements en- 
croached upon these, and the new or at least the expanding 
townships assarted forest land. Was this added arable now 

^ Cf. bdow, pp. 125 sq. 

' The townships referred to are located on the map which faces the title-page. 

* See Chapter DC, below. 



cultivated as were the existent two and three fields ? To answer 
this question an examination of sixteenth-century descriptions 
is essential; and, since such an examination may perhaps best be 
undertaken before the more numerous documents from the 
river valleys receive attention, extracts from surveys of forest 
townships have been summarized first in Appendix m.^ 

In Oxfordshire, just on the other side of Woodstock Park from 
Handborough and Bladon, both excellent examples of three-field 
arrangements, lie three other townships whose field irregularities 
at the end of the sixteenth century were noteworthy. All five 
were members of Woodstock manor. Of the three, Stonesfield was 
least enclosed, and here were to be foimd three fields apart from 
" Gannett's Sarte," which contained only freehold. While 
Church field and Callowe contributed a few acres to most copy- 
holds, the comprehensive arable area was Home field. This, 
although of little importance to the freeholders, usually comprised 
three-fourths or more of the acres of the customary tenants. Such 
an arrangement was, of course, very imlike the normal one and 
suggests that the first arable to be improved was occupied as a 
single field. To this, it would seem, two small additions had in 
time been made for copyholders and one for freeholders. Yet 
the preeminence of Home field had never been challenged. 

Almost as free from enclosure as Stonesfield was Wootton, 
where the arable lay in North field and West field, both at times 
called " ends." In only one instance was the virgate holding of 
a customary tenant divided between them, and this was because* 
two copyholds happened to be in one man's hands. A free 
tenant, too, had seven acres in West field, one and one-half 
acres in North field. Each remaining holding was confined to one 
or the other of the two fields. Wootton was thus, like Stones- 
field, so far as the customary tenements were concerned, a 
town^p of a single field. 

The third member of this group. Long Coombe, had its copy- 
holds considerably enclosed by 4 James I. Though the acres of 
a large group of " liberi tenentes per copiam " lay more often 

^ All the survQrs dted in this chapter are there in part tabulated, the order of 
their citation being observed. 


in the open fields, only one of these fields was of importance. Of 
West field, in which nearly all tenants, whatever their tenure, 
had some interest, the total area, including 28 acres of demesne, 
was 126 acres. In contrast, Over field contained only 28) acres, 
shared by a dozen tenants; Land field 34^ acres, held by six 
tenants; East End, apart from 17 acres of demesne, 42 acres in 
the hands of four tenants. The other open-field divisions were 
insignificant and of no interest to the copyholders. 

Why there should, at the end of the sixteenth century, have 
been three townships with markedly irregular fields so near to 
neighbors with regular fields is not obvious. Situation in a 
river valley, though true enough, will scarcely explain it, for 
Handborough and Bladon were even nearer the stream. A more 
plausible interpretation is suggested by the proximity of the 
three to Woodstock forest, without the bounds of which the two 
other townships distinctly lay. If the arable areas of the three 
were carved from the forest at a relatively late date, the regularity 
characteristic of older fields may not have been adopted. Pretty 
clearly Gannett's Sarte at Stonesfield was a recent addition, 
allotted, as it happens, only to freeholders. Where an assart 
can take its place independently among the divisions of the 
arable,^ it is possible that at an earlier time other divisions came 
into existence in the same manner. 

Further evidence pointing to the same explanation is to be had 
from a mid-sixteenth-century survey of Ramsden, a township on 
the southern edge of Wychwood forest, not far from the Woodstock 
group. Of the nine free tenants here we learn nothing save that 
they held closes. Besides a cottage, there were five customary 
holdings, each containing a little enclosed land but for the most 
part lying in open field, above all in Olde field. Each had 
about one-half as many acres in Code field as in Olde field, while 
there were scattering additional parcels in Shutlake, in Swynepit 
field, and in two assarts, Herwell Serte and Lucerte. If Olde 
field is balanced against all the other divisions, three of the 
holdings can be framed into a two-field system; since, however, 
the other two cannot be, it is better to class Rai^asden with 

* An assart is a recently improved portion of the waste. 


the Woodstock group. These four Oxfordshire townships thus 
seem to confirm the conjecture that location in an old forest area 
may be a reason for the appearance of irregular field arrangements 
within the midland territory. Among the fields it is natural 
that one, an Old field or a Home field, should have been larger 
and more important than the others. 

Another forest region, somewhat nearer the outskirts of the 
two- and three-field area, was Arden in northwestern Warwick- 
shire. From it we have several Tudor and Jacobean surveys, 
among the best, since its copyholds are numerous and are estima- 
ted in virgates, being that of Hampton-in- Arden. Here, in addi- 
tion to three inconsequent areas that furnish an occasional acre, 
four fields frequently recur, or even five, if In field, which is nearly 
always joined with Mill field, be counted. The township thus 
bore a superficial resemblance to those of four fields, such as could 
at this time be found on the lower Avon.* Yet the virgate hold- 
ings do not well stand the test of quadripartite division. Often 
they had acres in the four fields, and occasionally a not very un- 
equal number (3, 3, 4, 2^; 4, 4, 4, 3; 6, 6, 8, 5^); but more often 
one of the fields was slighted (6, 3, 4, 2; 4, 4, 5, 2; 4, 3, 3, o), and 
in some cases two fields were altogether omitted (o, o, 3^, 5^; 
o, o, 4, 7). Since all the irregularly divided holdings were vir- 
gates or fractional virgates, and since there were no enclosures 
recently taken from the fields to account for the irregularities, it 
is difficult to look upon Hampton as a strictly four-field township. 

Near Hampton was the manor of Knoll, comprising various 
hamlets. At Knoll itself the copyholds consisted very largely 
of enclosed meadow and pasture. So they did also in the ham- 
lets of Langdon and Widney, the fields of which are not separated 
in the survey. The freeholds of these hamlets, however, usually 
contained, along with preponderant enclosures, a few acres of 
open arable field. For the most part such acres were in Berye 
field and Seed furlong, but occasionally in Whatcroft and Hen 
field. The field parcels were often large (4, 5, 11 acres), and no 
principle of distribution among the curiously-named fields is 

1 Cf . bdow, p. 88. 


At Henley-in-Arden the Jacobean holdings were all small. 
Some of the largest had a few arable acres in Back field, usually 
less than ten, but with this the tale of unenclosed arable in 
this township, brief at best, is practically complete.^ Leaving, 
therefore, the forest of Arden we may follow the field irregular- 
ities that appear to have characterized it into the wooded region 
which is adjacent on the north. 

Much of the county of Stafford was probably in early days an 
unimproved forested area. In the southeast, indeed, we have 
found at RoUeston a normal six-field manor situated in the valley 
of the Trent, but outside the Trent valley fields in the county 
were likely to be irregular. Though Wootton-under-Weaver was 
not more than twenty miles north from Rolleston, its fields were 
five, and the method of tilling them is none too clearly discernible 
in the survey of i Edward VI. One field was too small to stand 
independently, but the attachment of it to any one of the other 
four does not result very satisfactorily. Yet a four-field arrange- 
ment is more credible than one of two or three fields, if indeed we 
are to predicate any regularity whatever in the grouping. The 
enclosures, which were few, explain nothing. 

At Rocester, a little farther horth, the irregularity is obvious 
and no conciliatory grouping is possible. Areas, to be sure, are 
usually given in " lands," but these cannot have differed greatly 
in size. At best the open fields were small, containing less than 
seventy-five acres in all, and the tenants at will who shared in 
them had their '' lands," it would seem, much as chance deter- 

At Over Arley in the southwestern part of the county, on the 
borders of Wyre forest, most holdings appear enclosed in the 
survey of 44 Elizabeth. Only seven tenants shared in the open 
fields, the area of which was less than fifty acres, and parcels in 
these fields were located in an even more incidental manner than 
at Rocester.* In general, therefore, outside of the Trent valley 

> Land Rev., M. B. 228, ff. 40-64. The survey is so simple that it has not been 

* Ibid, M. B. 185, ff. 149-156. Two tenants had parcels in Stony field, two in 
Great field, and five in Godfrieshame. 


Staffordshire seems to have been a county tending to ^ow forest 
irregularities in its open fields rather than the orderliness of the 
two- and three-field system. 

Sufficient illustration has perhaps been given to indicate what 
deviations from the normal field S3rstem were in the sixteenth 
century to be met with in midland districts rec^itly reclaimed 
from the forest. It is time to turn to the irregularities which 
might arise in the fields of the most favorably situated of the 
old townships, those of the river valle)rs. Since no part of 
England within the borders of the two- and three-field area is 
more endowed with natural advantages than the valle3rs of the 
southwest, the basin of the lower Severn and Avon constitutes 
a suitable region with which to begin our study. To assist us, 
sixteenth-century surveys of many monastic properties in 
Gloucestershire are available.^ 

Simplest of the irregularities there visible is the four-field 
arrangement which several townships had adopted. Since the 
lower Avon and the slopes of the Cotswolds were in the thirteenth 
century the home of two-field husbandry,* it is not unlikely that 
each of the old fields had been subdivided.' Impl)dng, as four 
fields imdoubtedly did in the sixteenth century, a four-course 
rotation of crops, this method of tillage brought into annual 
cultivation three-fourths instead of one-half or two-thirds of the 
arable of the township. 

The surveys of Welford and Marston Sicca, villages lying not 
far from the Avon, are illustrative, and have in part been sum- 
marized in the Appendix. The division of the holdings among 
four fields was remarkably exact, perhaps an indication that the 
arrangement was recent. One of the fields of each township was 
called West field, but the names of the other fields have a ring 
far from ancient — Sholebreade, Stabroke, Middle Barrow, Natte 
furlong, Nylls-and-hadland. The copyholds of Admington and 
Stanton, townships not far away, were divided in the same 
precise way among four fields, some of which bore more usual 

* Particularly in Exch. K. R., M. B. 39, temp, Edw. VI. 

* Cf. pp. 29-30, and Appendix II. 

* For later evidence of tlus procedure, see below, pp. las-iay, where the plan of 
a four-fidd township b also sketdied. 


names.^ Longney, too, had four important fields, but only the 
number of '' sellions '' in each is given.* Since the areas of these 
are uncertain and the number of them in each field was by no 
means the same for different holdings, the four-field character of 
the township cannot be established. 

Most field arrangements of low-lying Gloucestershire townships 
were in the sixteenth century not so simple as those just described. 
No neat four-field grouping is generally apparent. Less than five 
miles from Marston Sicca was situated Clapton, a member of the 
manor of Ham. The copyholds of the siu^ey were rated in vir- 
gates, but nearly always the fields in which the acres of the 
virgate lay were siuprisingly numerous. Usually as many as six, 
they might increase to twelve. Fields which appeared in one 
holding dropped out in another. To Lake field and Lypiatt's 
field most acres were usually assigned, but either of them was 
liable to be slighted. There were several common " crofts," 
Redecrof t, Bancroft, Litlecrof t, Prestcrof t, each shared by several 
taiants. The township proffers a good illustration of the multi- 
plicity of small fields, how grouped and cultivated we do not 

Six miles out of Gloucester is Frocester, a township of the plain. 
About one-half of the area of the customary holdings was en- 
closed meadow and pasture in i Edward VI.'; the other half 
lay in eight small fields. South field and West field received 
most of the tenants' arable acres, but with no systematic divi- 
sion between them. Neither by joining the smaller fields with 
them nor by combining the latter apart can one simulate a two- 
or three-field S3rstem. For purposes of cultivation it apparently 
mattered little in what field or fields a tenant's arable acres lay. 

Near Gloucester, too, was Oxlynch, a tithing of Standish, situ- 
ated on the slopes of the Cotswolds. In the accoimt of its fields 
nine are named, though four of them seldom. Of the others, Grete 

' Ezch. K. R., M. B. 39, ff. 149, 155. The fields of Admington (Warks.) were 
Humber, HaiberiU, MideU furloag, and Nett; of Stanton (Glouc8.)» Myddle, South, 
HoniburDe, and North. 

' Ibid., f . 199. They were named Boinpole, Little, Acra, and Suffilde. 

* 369 acres out of 707. The demesne comprised 607 acres, of which 136 were 
in open field. 


Combe, Lytelcombe, Stony field, North field, and Dawhill field, 
at least three usually appear in each of the holdings, which were 
rated in fractional virgates. Several times, too, the same three 
recur together, and the distribution of acres amcMig them is 
not very imequal. It is, therefore, possible that Qxlynch was a 
three-field township with two groups of three fields. If so, it 
was somewhat imusual in a neighborhood given over to two-field 
and irregular-field arrangements. About one-third of each 
holding was enclosed. 

In the southern part of the county on the edge of the Cots- 
wolds, neighbor on the east to townships once clearly in two 
fields,^ lies Horton. A siu^ey of i Edward VI shows the tenants 
in possession of 980 acres, of which 302, nearly one-third, were 
enclosed. There is some imcertainty about the nimiber and 
names of the open fields. Mershe field and Yarlinge field are 
clear enough, but there is an '^ Infeld et alius campus vocatus 
Ynfeld." Careless spelling may be responsible for the separa- 
tion of " Endfeld '* from the latter. Whatever the identifications, 
there is no trace of a three-field arrangement in the virgate 
holdings, and a two-field one is problematical. Three virgates 
divide their open field between Yarlinge field and Mershe field, 
disregarding other fields. If In field be joined with Mershe 
field and the ** great felde " with Yarlinge field, other virgates 
can be subdivided according to a two-field system; but still others 
cannot, one lying entirely in Mershe field. If Horton had ever 
been or still in the sixteenth century was a two-field township, it 
could at least then be convicted of deviations from the norm. 

Three or four miles southwest of Horton and distinctly in the 
flat plain of the Severn is Yate, surveyed at the same time. The 
proportions of open field and enclosed land were here exactly 
reversed, two-thirds of the tenants' acres being enclosed, one- 
third lying in open field. In consequence there was much greater 
irregularity in distribution among fields than at Horton. Apart 
from scattering areas, three fields stood out, West field, North 
field, and Up field, the last necessarily an east or a south field. 
Although these names suggest an early three-field arrangement, 

' E. g., Hawkesbury and Badminton. Cf. Appendix II, pp. 464, 465. 


no holding in the sixteenth century was divided among the three 
with any semblance of equality, and for this reason we must 
look upon the township as one alien to the midland system. 

Adjacent to Yate on the south is Frampton Cotterell. Here 
the process, well under way at Yate, was early completed, for in 
the survey of i Edward VI no open-field arable whatever is 
j)erceptible.^ There had been a " Westfeld," to which is assigned 
a solitary seven-acre parcel together with a two-acre close. Quite 
possibly a common meadow was still existent, for twice there is 
mention of such, and some 50 acres of meadow in various hold- 
ings are not said to have been enclosed. The remainder of the 
township's lands, nearly 575 acres, are minutely described as 
closes. Only about 90 acres were closes of arable, the rest being 
pasture. Thus completely had the twenty-three substantial 
copyholders of the township, each possessed of a messuage and 
upwards of 15 acres of land,' gone over to pasture farming. 
And this had happened, without any evidence of high-handed 
procedure, in a well-peopled township ten miles distant from 

To explain what system of tillage was employed on the open 
irregular fields of the valley townships of Gloucestershire is not 
easy. William Marshall, who wrote two centuries later but who 
knew Gloucestershire weU, makes suggestive comment. He first 
notes with scorn the intermixture of the parcels of the several 
owners. Although this was a feature likely to be seen wherever a 
common-field system prevailed, Marshall apparently thought the 
Gloucestershire arrangement more arbitrary than that existing 
elsewhere. In the fields, he says, the property is not intermixed 
" with a view to general conveniency or an equitable distribu- 
tion of the lands to the several messuages of the townships they 
lie in, as in other places they appear to have been; but here the 
property of two men, perhaps neighbours in the same hamlet, 
will be mixed land-for-land alternately; though the soil and the 
distance from the messuages be nearly the same.'' Later he gives 
valuable information about the tillage of the fields. '' In the 

^ Rents, and Survs., Portf. 2/46, ff. 139 sq. 

* Except three, who had 4}, 8, and 9 acres respectively. 


neighbourhood of Glocester are some extensive common fields 
• . . cropped, year after year, during a century, or perhaps cen- 
turies; without one intervening whole year's fallow. Hence they 
are called * Every Year's Land.' On these lands no regular 
succession of crops is observed; except that * a brown and a white 
crop' — pulse and com — are cultivated in altemacy. The in- 
closed arable lands are imder a similar course of management." ^ 

Tillage of this kind, characterized by absence of fallowing and by 
a varying succession of crops, would go far, if it were practiced 
two centuries before Marshall's time, to explain irregularities in 
field s)rstems. Nor is such early practice improbable. Mar- 
shall conjectures that the usage was ancient; and the proximity 
of townships which the tenants themselves had seen fit to enclose, 
such as Frampton Cotterell, argues that there was abroad a sinrit 
of innovation and a desire so to cultivate fertile land as to get 
from it the most ample return. 

Pertinent evidence regarding irregularities in Gloucestershire 
tillage as early as the thirteenth century has been pointed out 
by Vinogradoff.' It relates to a custom known as making an 
" inhoc " (inhocfacere). This consisted in enclosing for a year's 
cultivation a part of the arable fallow which would in the normal 
course of tillage have lain imcultivated. The anonymous author 
of a treatise on husbandry written before the end of the thir- 
teenth century knew the custom well.* It was the exaction of an 
added crop from the soil, a demand which could not at that time 
be made too often. In the instance which Vinogradoff cites, it 
was thought possible to enclose (inhocare) every second year 40 
acres out of 174 which were tilled imder a three-course rotation.* 
In other words, from the 58 acres which would normally each 
year have lain fallow, 20 were put imder contribution for an extra 

^ Wniiam Marshall, The Rural Economy of Glocesterskire, including iis Dairy 
(2 vols., Gloucester, 1789), i. 17, 65-66. 

* Villainage in Enffand, pp. 226-227. 

* '' £ si liad inhom il ddt ver quele coture il [the provost of the manor] prent 
en le inhom & de quel ble il seme chescune coture. ..." {Walter of Henley^s 
Husbandry f together with an Anonymous Husbandry, etc, ed. E. Lamond, 1890, 
p. 66). 

« Historia el Cartularium Monasterii S, Petri Gloucestriae (ed. W. H. Hart, Rolls 
Series, 3 vols., 1863-67), iii. 35. 


harvest If all the 1 74 acres were treated alike, each one, instead 
of being fallowed every third year, was fallowed twice during a 
period of nine years. Although this instance refers to demesne 
lands which seem not to have lain in the common arable fields, 
the other case cited by Vinogradoff makes note of the tenants' 
interest in the lands which are to be subject to " inhoc," an 
intimation that these were open arable field.^ 

A usage of this sort would not, of course, immediately affect 
the integrity of a field system. The old bipartite or tripartite 
division ntiight still be kept and a survey give no indication of the 
new custom. But in time the innovation was bound to tell upon 
field divisions; for these would gradually be shifted so as to reflect 
the superior tillage, imtil by the sixteenth century the fiefds 
may have become as abnormal as we have just seen them. If 
these conjectures are correct, the irregularities of the surveys 
represent an intermediate step between the already improving 
agriculture of the thirteenth century and the " every-year " 
lands which MarshiEtll knew. 

To the west of Gloucestershire the valleys of the Wye and Lug 
constitute the largest and most fertile part of Herefordshire. 
Relative to this coimty testimony from the sixteenth century 
and from an earUer period has already been advanced to show 
that the three-field S3rstem was once existent there.* It must 
now be pointed out that along^de three-field townships there 
appeared in due course others which differed from them. Several 
Jacobean surveys from Herefordshire manifest characteristics in- 
dicative of a departure from normal arrangements. Most striking 
of these irregularities are the large number of small fields and 
the break-up of the old tenements. 

One of the townships of the manor of Stockton, a manor which 
has already testified to the existence of the three-field system in 
the county, betrays in the sixteenth century a tendency toward 
multiplicity of fields. This is Middleton, about one-fourth of 
whose area was then enclosed meadow or pasture. The arable, 

^ Regisirum Mdmesburiense (ed. J. S. Brewer, RoUs Series, 2 vols., 1879-80), ii. 
186. The " campi " in question were those of Brokenborough, a townshq> on 
the upper Avon in Ti^tshire, but very near Gloucestershire. 

• Cf. pp. 37, 64-66, above. 


which constituted the remaining three-fourths, lay in many com- 
m(Hi fields, and only by following the names of these does the 
true complexity of the situation become apparent. In the dozen 
holdings transcribed in Appendix III about forty field names 
appear, some of them only once. We ntiight suq>ect them of be- 
ing applicable to doses held in severalty, were it not that nearly 
every one is said to refer to a communis campus. Since a tenant's 
holding was likely to lie in from three to nine of these areas, any 
attempt to group them according to the three-field s}rstem is 
naturally a hopeless task. The open fields of Middletcm had 
by the end of the sixteenth century got into such a condition 
that their enclosure cannot have been difficult.^ 

The same multiplicity of fields characterized certain townships 
of the manor of Ivington, from two of which, Hope-xmder- 
Dinmore and Brierley, holdings are likewise summarized. In 
both, enclosures constituted from one-fifth to one-third of each 
holding. At Hope three fields. Over, Down, and Priesthey, fre- 
quently recur in the survey; but if a holding had acres in all of 
them it had most in Over field. Though four other fields occa- 
sionally appear, they cannot be grouped with the three so as to 
redress inequalities among the latter. At Brierley there were 
seven noteworthy fields, among which Gorve field and " le Much 
Howe '* received the largest apportionment of acres. While a 
few holdings admit of a three-field interpretation, the rest are 
not amenable to it. 

Equally perplexing are the fields of Stoke Edith, which in 40 
Elizabeth were described as largely open. The specifications of 
the survey are not alwa3rs ludd, parcels being sometimes desig- 
nated '^ ridges"; but the holdings transcribed, which can be 
little questioned, serve to show the open-field areas small, nimier- 
ous, and indifferent to a three-field grouping. 

In certain of the Stoke Edith holdings that are not trans- 
cribed there is trace of another tendency characteristic of Here- 
fordshire fields. This is the break-up of old tenements and the 
dispersion of their parcels among several new tenants. What 
is meant will become dear by the consideration of a Jacobean 

' There is no record of their enclosure by act of parliament. 


survey of the large manor of Maiden,^ although this is irritatingly 
complicated. The freehold entries number 35, the copyhold 141, 
nearly all recording small areas.' There were about 70 messuages 
in the hands of some 57 independent householders.' The manor 
comprised several townships,* each apparently with its own fields, 
although in some cases there may have been no sharp division of 
common fields among them.^ The following holding is charac- 
teristic of the survey, and serves to emphasize the featiu-e in which 
we are for the moment interested — the break-up of traditional 
tenements: — 

'' Ricardus Grene tenet per copiam datam anno regni regine 
Elizabethe xxziv imiun mesuagiiun, pomeriiun et clausam adia- 
centem continentem i acram nuper Thome Stead 
p>er copiam . . . Elizabethe ii, i acram in Holbach feild in 

villata de Venne nuper Hugonis Lane 
per copiam . . . Elizabethe xxix, ii acras in Lake feild 
per copiam . . . Elizabethe xli, ii acras in Fromanton [another 

villata] in quodam campo ibidem vocato Holbach feild nuper 

Thome Wootton 
p>er copiam . . . Elizabethe xxv, dimidiam acram de Socke- 

land iacentem in Nashill feild 
per copiam . . . Elizabethe xl, ii rodas in Ashill feild nuper 

Johanis Parsons 
per copiam . . .Elizabethe xxv, dimidiam acram in Ashill . . . 

in occupatione Johanis Mathie 
per copiam . . . Elizabethe xxxv, unam acram terre custiunarie 

de Soakeland in Odich feild nuper Willelmi Stephens 

^ Land Rev., M. B. 317, fif. 194-292. 

' Sometimes the subdivision of the holdings (especially of the larger ones) among 
the fields b not given. A few of the tenants were gentlemen. 

* Seven cottages were held by a single person, and six messuages by tenants 
each already possessed of a messuage 

* " Item that there are within the said Ix)nlshippe of Marden viii severall 
villages or Towneshipps viz. Marden, Fromanton, Sutton, Freene, Wisteston, 
Vauld, Verne, Fenne, and Marston and that they and everie of them are to doe 
su3rte to the said Courte of the said Mannor . . ,** (Land Rev., M. B. 217, 
f. 290). 

* Venne and Fromanton, two of the townships which appear in the following 
holding, seem to have shared in Holbach field. 


per copiam . . . Elizabethe iv, unam acram terre custumarie 
de Sokeland iacentem in Fromanton ... in campo ibidem 
vocato Nashill nuper \(^elmi Cooke 

per copiam . . . Philipi ii et Marie iii, unam acram in Froman- 
ton in quodam loco vocato Odyche nuper Jacobi Ckeene, 
patris sui." * 

During the second half of the sixteenth century Richard Grene 
is thus seen acquiring ten and one-half acres throu^ no fewer than 
ten different grants by copy. Starting in the time of Philip and 
Mary with an acre which had been his father's, he had added par- 
cel after parcel up to the last years of Elizabeth's reign, some 
acquisitions being customary sokeland, others simple copyhcdd. 
These parcels had formerly been in the possession of six tenants, 
many of whose other acres had also passed out of their hands.^ 
Obviously such an agglomerate holding as this of Grene's can 
instruct us little about the original field S3rstem of the townships 
of the manor, but the bare fact that such tenements were in 
process of formation proves that the rules of three-field tillage 
can scarcely have been observed at the end of the sixteenth cen- 
tury. Grene had, to be sure, taken pains to acquire parcels in 
the three fields which are assigned to Fromanton. Yet there 
were years when he did not possess them all, and one of these 
fields (Holbach) was not restricted to Fromanton, since Venne 
also had interests in it. Grene, further, did not hesitate to 
acquire two acres in Lake field, which the enclosure map shows 
to have been at some distance and which was i^obably not one 
of the fields of Fromanton.' Shifting arrangements of this sort 
cannot well have been the concomitant of a S3rstematic three- 
field system. 

Another Marden illustration emphasizes what has been said 
above, and in addition reveab clearly the natural outcome of 
unstable tenements and a decadent field system. John Car- 
wardyn held by four copies lands which had once been John 
Heere's, Richard Heere's, and (for the most part) Richard 

' Land Rev., M. B. 217, f. 211. 

' As b shown in the descriptions of various holdings. 

* Cf. the sketch of the enclosure map of Marden, p. 147, bdow. 


Danyell's.^ Among them was half a messuage accompan3dng 
half of a virgate of customary sokeland lying in the township 
of Verne. The half-virgate comprised, besides garden, orchard, 
and two-acre curtilage, 

*' Clausam pasture do novo inclusam extra commimem cam- 
pum vocatum Lawfeild continentem per estimationem i 
acram dimidiam 
Aliam parcellam pasture de novo inclusam in Senacre feild 
Terram arabilem iacentem in communibus campis de Mawar- 
den cuius quantitatem juratores ignorant." 

This tenant had, it appears, enclosed the part of his virgate which 
lay in two of the open common fields. The procedure is what 
might have been expected and permitted when the vitality of the 
old system had been sapped. Although, as it happens, much of the 
manor of Marden remained open for two centuries longer,* Here- 
fordshire townships in general became enclosed, and the nature 
of the open fields as displayed in the foregoing illustrations must 
have been one of the causes contributory to enclosure. Multi- 
plicity of fields and disintegration of the old tenements were 
transitional phases in the passage from the old system to the 
new, and the motive prompting the change was probably the same 
as that effective in Gloucestershire — a desire to cultivate the 
soil more advantageously than the three-field system permitted. 
A region which in situation and soil was well adapted to im- 
prove upon a primitive system of agriculture was eastern Somer- 
set. In early days a two-field system had there prevailed, and 
nearly all townships which appear in Appendix U utilized it for 
the cultivation of their arable in the thirteenth century. From 
the southeastern part of the county the Tudor survey of Mar- 
tock, with its members Hurst and Bower Henton, has been dted 
in a preceding chapter to illustrate symmetrical three-field ar- 
rangements.' None the less, Tudor and Jacobean surveys from 
Somerset which disclose the two or three old fields still intact are 
exceptional. To ^ow how most records of this date picture 

' Land Rev., M. B. 217, f. 224. * Cf. p. 32, above. 

' Cf. p. 140, bek>w. 


the original system in various stages of decay, holdings from 
several surveys have been transcribed in Appendix HI and now 
claim attention. 

Adjacent to Martock and situated on the river Parret is Kings- 
bury, the Jacobean survey of which records that many of the 
ancient holdings called " de antiquo austro " were largely or 
entirely enclosed. Such were the three still rated in virgates and 
" fardells," or quarter- virgates, and such were most of the numer- 
ous holdings not here transcribed. Others had still a few or 
even the majority of their acres in open fields. Of these op>en 
fields, the three which were largest and most often recurrent were 
Byneworth, Kylworth, and Hill field, their total areas being 68, 
41, and 38 acres resp)ectively. At the same time the customary 
holdings at Kingsbxiry, exclusive of cottages, nimibered nearly 70. 
Obviously the share of any tenant in the arable fields must have 
been slight, seldom so much as ten acres and usually less than five. 
Some of the holdings which received most liberal allotments have 
been transcribed, but even in them there was no distribution of 
acres among fields that suggests a regular system. The names 
of certain fields, too, Byneworth, Kylworth, Tunnland, Deanland, 
were unusual. Kingsbury is thus revealed at the end of the six- 
teenth centxiry, not only as a parish largely enclosed, but as one 
that had about it little trace of the system which once charac- 
terized the countryside. These features it probably owed to 
its situation ; for it is a river township, and its rich bottom 
lands must have been early turned to pasturage and improved 

Not xmlike Kingsbury was another low-lying manor, that of 
East Brent, situated nearer the Bristol Channel. Holdings from 
two of the tithings, which have been transcribed from the Jaco- 
bean survey, illustrate the predominance here of enclosed pas- 
ture. Of the arable most was enclosed, but some lay in small 
open fields and appeared in the copyholds sporadically. There 
were a few acres " super le Downe." Reduced in condition 
though they were, a West field and an East field still had prece- 
dence; in them lay most of the open arable acres, though 
no longer with two-field precision. The manor was one which 


had almost forgotten its early days in its adherence to pasture 

Similarly immindful of their thirteenth-century condition were 
two townships nearer the Wiltshire border, not far removed from 
Bath and Wells respectively. These were Norton St. Philip and 
West Pennard. In the copyholds of the former enclosures so 
much predominated that only a half-dozen still had any parcels 
left in the two fields, which we discern to have been North and 
South. Since a considerable area in the North field known as 
" goddes peece " had not long since been converted to enclosed 
pasture, Norton St. Philip seems already to have devoted itself 
to the dairy farming of which it boasts today. 

West Pennard, a manor once belonging to Glastonbury, was 
more conservative. Although its holdings were generally about 
half aiclosed and devoted to pasturage, there were in each several 
acres of open arable field. Often these lay in " Easteme Downe " 
and " Westeme Downe,*' so disposed as to tempt one to see in 
these '^ Downes " two old fields; but such a conclusion might be 
hasty, inasmuch a^ remains of a South field existed and at times 
some holdings manifested a kind of three-field attitude toward 
Breach field, Westmore field, and Eastmore field. In view of 
these contradictions, we can only insist upon the general irregu- 
larity of the field arrangements without trying to probe into 
their past. 

Finally, certain townships may be cited to show the two-field 
system just inclining to decay. On the tongue of high land 
which borders Sedgemoor in mid-Somerset is situated Curry 
Mallett, where in 16 10 the two old fields. East and West, were 
still easily recognizable. They had been encumbered, though 

Two manors of the Earl of Pembroke, surveyed in 9 Elizabeth, lay in this part 
of the county. South Brent seems to have been entirely enclosed. At Chedzoy 
near Bridgewater, however, there was considerable unenclosed land, much of it 
meadow. Seldom did one-half of a holding lie in open arable field, while the 
fraction might fall to one-seventh and was usually one-third or one-fourth. 
The fields which most often appear are East and North, the former receiving the 
greater number of acres. At times there is reference to West field and Slapeland 
field, but no indications of a regular field system are visible. Cf. C. R. Straton, 
Survey of the Lands of WiUiaMf First Earl of Pembroke (2 vols., Rozburghe Club, 
1909), ii. 471-486, 442-471. 


only a little, with such appendages as the Slade, the Breache, and 
Eyeberie. It was still possible for a tenant to have eleven acres 
in one, ten in the other, while a small holding, like that of John 
Polman might even lie largely in the open fields. Yet nearly 
all copyholders had withdrawn from these fields much of their 
arable. Departing, however, from the usual practice, they had 
not converted this into pasture, of which little is described in the 
survey. Yet it k probable that the " arable " of the enclosures 
was not without experience of convertible husbandry, and that the 
copyholders did at times turn their fields into pasture for a year 
or two. Pasture for sheep or cattle was the less necessary at 
Curry Mallett since tenants had unstinted common in Sedge- 

It will be remembered that Somerset could still in Jacobean 
days furnish a typical two-field township. Such,was South Stoke, 
situated near Bath, and already described. Not a dozen miles 
away, Corston had departed from the norm only a little farther. 
Its two fields were North field and South field, between which 
several of the holdings, and these large ones, divided their arable 
evenly enough. Other tenements, however, manifested no equality 
of division, having many more acres in North field than in South 
field. Enclosure of a part of the South field may well have been 
the cause of this, though we are not informed. At any rate, 
there was in each of these holdings enough enclosed land to 
redress the balance between the fields, if it may be assimied that 
some of it had once been a part of them. 

One more Somersetshire illustration is pardonable, since it 
shows the two old fields still existent, though moribimd, so late 
as 1684. The hill township of Bruton in the eastern part of the 
coimty was once the seat of a priory. Some ten of the copy- 
holders still in the seventeenth century had acres in North field 
or South field, the totals being 25} and 19, with 4} acres not 
located. The numerous lessees, holding for life or for 99 years, 
had in addition 53 acres in North field, 13 in S(Hith field, with 47 
acres elsewhere.^ Seldom was there such distribution of acres as 

> There are two or three notes about parcds recently enclosed. 


would indicate a two-field system still effective; and the proba* 
bility that it was so is slight, since five-sixths*);)^ the leasehold 
and two-thirds of the copyhold lay enclosed. Many Somerset 
townships must at the end of the seventeenth centuryhave been 
like Bruton, a fact which would accoxmt for the comp^tively 
small amoimt of arable within the coimty affected by -kct of 

A Wiltshire township, situated, like most of those abov6 de^'* 
scribed, in a district favorable for improved or for pasture f anii- 
ing, shows by the Glastonbury siu^ey of lo Henry VIH that it 
was already availing itself of its natural advantages. Christian 
Malford is in the valley of the Wiltshire Avon, where the downs 
do not yet close in as they do at Bath. Low-lying lands aboimd. 
In consequence about one-half of each virgate (and the virgates 
were large) consisted of closes, but whether these were pasture 
we do not learn. Altogether the copyholders had 753 acres of 
enclosed land, in comparison with 68 acres of common meadow 
and 941 acres in the open arable fields. For a township in the 
heart of the two-field area these fields were numerous. There 
was, to be sure, a North field and a West field, though few of the 
virgate holdings had acres in both of them and some had acres in 
neither. Other fields were often favored — Little field, Bene- 
hul field, Middel field, Wode furlong — and in the most arbitrary 
manner. A virgater sometimes had more arable acres in one field 
than he had in all the others, while the dominant field at times 
varied from virgate to virgate. North field, which in many 
holdings was not mentioned, contained nearly all the acres of 
four distinct virgates. Neither uniformity of distribution nor 
equality of apportionment among fields is anywhere perceptible 
in the survey. At the beginning of the sixteenth centiuy Chris- 
tian Malford was as far removed from the appearance of two- 

^ For the entire county Slater (English Peasantry, p. 29S) cites only forty-one 
acts relative to open arable field. Of these all except six estimate the areas to be en- 
closed. Nine thousand acres are said to have been arable, eleven thousand more 
partly arable, partly pasture. Since the county contains 1,043,409 acres, the 
open-field arable enclosed by act of parliament was only between one and two per 
cent of the area of the county. In Oxfordshire, as the following chapter will show, 
it was about thirty-seven per cent of the county's area. 

• • 

• • 


• • • 

and three-field tdwn^)iips as disregard of their field conventions 
could render it.^*. '• 
Before wcT psjss to the north of England, we should not fail 

to note Jlie'tlecay of a two-field system in the Isle of Wight- 

• • • • • 

The pE0eis(^ division of acres between two fields, characteristic of 
WelloW,?*was unusual in surveys from that island. At Niton in 
6 J2nnes I there were still two fields, but they had suffered from 
/^t. Activity of the tenant encloser, most holdings being half or 
:*V.taiore than half enclosed. While the acres had been abstracted 
./sometimes from one field, sometimes from the other, East field 
had shrunken more; in it there remained but 53 acres of copy- 
hold, while West field contained 71 and the enclosures 167 J. 
Of common meadow there was scarcely any. 

At '^ Uggaton " the appearance of open-field names in the sur- 
vey is so infrequent that it is doubtful whether such fields really 
survived. One tenant had 2} acres in South field, two had 
together 2I acres in North field, four had 29^ acres in West field. 
That was all. Since such data are too slight to build inferences 
upon, the township should be looked upon as practically enclosed 
by 6 James I.* 

Enclosed beyond all doubt were the fields of Thorley, sur- 
veyed at the same time.^ All areas are said to be closes, although 
the character of these as pasture or arable is not specified. What 
is interesting here and at " Uggaton " is the goodly array of copy- 
holders whom no evicting landlord seems to have disturbed. At 
" Uggaton " there were ei^teen with from 5 to 68 acres of land 
apiece, at Thorley fifteen similarly drcimistanced. To be sure, 
these manors were royal ones, upon which evictions could not be- 
comingly have taken place; yet they make it clear that the quiet 
passage from open fields to enclosures could be effected in the 

^ The numerous Wiltshire manors of the Earl of Pembroke, survejred in 9 Eliza- 
beth, were largely in two or three fields (d. below, Appendix II, pp. 501-503). Four, 
however, Bower Chalk, Chilmaric, Hilcott, and Stockton, had sulc^ted a four-field 
arrangement. Two, Berwick St. John and Bedwyn, had irregular fields, due prob- 
ably to their situation in remote upland valleys. Cf. Straton, Survey of the Lands 
of William, First Earl of Pembroke, vol. i. 

* Cf. above, p. 31. 

* Exch. Aug. Of., M. B. 421. Because the open fields were so insignificant, no 
holdings have been transcribed in Appendix m. * Ibid. 


Isle of Wight without serious diminution of tenants.^ Since the 
copyholders themselves presimiably desired such change, the 
process may be looked upon as a natural one. 

Leaving the irregularities of the south and west, we may now 
inquire whether similar phenomena were to be foimd at the end 
of the sixteenth century within the northern part of the midland 
area. Most important of the river valleys here are those of the 
Trent and Humber. Just removed from the banks of the latter 
river in Yorkshire lies Willerby, where nominally the fields were 
six, though two were small and another very small. If the two be 
combined, and the smallest be annexed to any one of the others, 
we shall have in each holding four nearly equal areas. The 
combination of the two is further permissible, since it is Toffin- 
dale, not called a field, which is thus annexed to West field. All 
the other large areas are designated fields — Lowe field, Elirke- 
gate field, Langland field — while even the diminutive tract is 
dubbed Ellerylimd field. If this grouping be correct, there was 
here a four-field arrangement like that characteristic of the plain 
of the lower Avon. 

Before proceeding up the valley of the Trent we may turn aside 
for a m^ent to another Yorkshire township, that of Breighton 
on the Derwent. Here the Jacobean survey records five fields 
of importance — Longland, Borne, South, Car, and Hallmore. 
Sometimes a tenant had acres in three of them, sometimes in 
four, sometimes in the five, yet without uniform distribution 
and in accordance with no system which is apparent by tentative 
grouping. Some tenants had several acres of enclosed land, but 
the assumption that these had been taken from the fields does 
not clear up the subject. Although a four-field arrangement is 
a little more plausible than any other, so incongruous at times is 
the distribution of acres that the kind of system employed must 
remain in doubt. 

Passing now from the Humber to the Trent, we straightway 
reach the fertile Isle of Axholme, where lies the township of 

^ One of the first anti-endosure acts (4 Hen. VII, c. 16) refers to the Isle of 
Wight as a region suffering from depopulation. Cf. Gay, '* Inquisitions of De- 
population in 151 7/' p. 232. 


Owston, of which a Jacobean survey survives. The holdings 
were small and are not always rated by bovates. The freehold 
amounted to 247 acres, of which 102 were enclosed and 36 com- 
mon meadow; of the 239 acres of copyhold, 43 were enclosed 
and 17 common meadow. Thus less than two-thirds of the 
tenants' lands lay in open field, and if a holding were a little short 
in the acres of one field it had enclosed land as a resource. 
Glancing now at the distribution of the open-field arable of the 
tenements, we see pretty dearly that the system was, or not long 
since had been, one of four fields. The larger customary hold- 
ings (all of which are shown in the Appendix) were unanimous 
in dividing their areas among four fields, although the division 
was not sharp-cut, like that at Marston Sicca or Welford. 
Despite this laxity and the relatively extensive enclosures, the 
survey is our best illustration of four-field arrangements in 
the north. 

Farther up the Trent near Nottingham are Lenton and Rad- 
ford, both of which formed the home manor of Lenton pnxxry. 
Their fields are described together in a Jacobean survey, the 
acres of the bovates being frequently distributed among all six of 
them. Three of the fields were smaller than the others, and some 
one of them was often not represented in a holding. We might 
conclude that the arrangement inclined to three main fields with 
three supplementary ones; yet, if such were the case, groujungs 
to prove it are not easily made. The three fields in each of 
which the small holding of Andrew Webster had one-half acre 
are said to be the fields of Lenton. If the other three were the 
fields of Radford and the two groups were tilled together, the 
combination should be Beck field and More field. Red field and 
Church field. Sand field and Alwell field; but neither this nor 
any other arrangement always works out haiq>ily. In each hold- 
ing there was considerable common meadow, a fact which may 
account for discrepancies. Only by assuming that parcels of 
arable in the fields had been converted into meadow,^ can we 
group the six fields by twos so as to make the former existence of 
a three-field system credible. 

1 For cootempomy instances of this process, see p. 35, above, and p. 106, bdow. 


Although instances of irregularities like these may be found 
in the valley of the Trent and its neighborhood, they are less 
niunerous than similar phenomena in the southwest. The north- 
em midlands were more like the southeastern in retaining until the 
end of the sixteenth century an imvarying three-field character. 
Farther to the north, however, several interesting irregular fields 
deserve notice. They were situated to the south and west of 
Durham, in the territory which has provisionally been designated 
as the northern outpost of the three-field system. 

It will be remembered that this designation was hazarded in 
connection with the survey of Ingleton. The synunetrical three- 
field aspect of that township we may see repeated in the descrip- 
tions of thirteen of its neighbors.^ All are taken from a series of 
Jacobean surveys relative to the extensive manors of Raby, 
Barnard Castle, and Brancepeth, the members of which are 
situated for the most part where the moors slope eastward toward 
the valleys of the Tees and Wear. Those townships lying in the 
plain of the Tees were the ones in which the three-field system 
was most intact. Others that lie more on the uplands inclined 
to enclosure and pasturage. This is particularly true of the 
members of Brancepeth,* to the west of Durham, where the 
neighborhood of the Wolds may have been responsible for irregu- 
larities in field arrangements; for it is not improbable that some 
arable here was a relatively recent improvement from the waste, 
akin in this respect to that of forest townships. Yet certain mem- 
bers of the manor cannot be thus classified: Willington, Stockley, 
Eldon, and East Brandon are near enough to the river Wear to 
have had a long field history. Conditions at East Brandon, as 
pictured in the Appendix, illustrate the irregularities of these 
river townships and show what might have been seen in Jacobean 
days just outside the gates of Durham. 

Closes in the township were few, scarcely more than the acre or 
two attached to the homesteads. Nor was the intermixed arable 
in the common fields very great in amoimt. Several tenants had 

^ Cf, Appendix II, pp. 462-463. 

' CrodL and Billy Row, Thornley, Willington, Stockley, Helme Park, Cornsey, 
Eldon, East Brandon. 


a few acres in Rudenhill, in West field, and in Watergate field, 
but the arable of others lay entirely elsewhere. William Briggs 
had eleven acres at Hareham, where he had stiU more meadow 
and pasture. Indeed, this brings us to what is perlu^ most 
noteworthy about the survey — the 2q^)earance in certain fields 
of meadow alongside the arable. Lowe field was most trans- 
formed by such procedure, for seldom did the tenants retain any 
arable there. Instead they had large parcek of meadow, some- 
times as many as twenty acres; nor does an3rthing indicate that 
these parcels were enclosed. They seem, rather, to have ranained 
open and to p<Hnt to a gradual abandonm^it of arable tillage. 

Such an abandonment is more dearly indicated by another sur- 
vey of this series, that of Eggleston.^ Eg^eston lies well up the 
valley of the Tees, and still in 5 James I maintained its three 
fields. East, Middle, and West, among which several holdings 
were divided with a show of equality. Presumably the fields had 
once been largely arable. When, however, the survey was made 
change had begun, though not in the direction of enclosure, of 
which there was still little. Conversion to meadow had pro- 
ceeded without it: nearly all the parcels of the various tenants in 
East field and West field are said to have been meadow; arable 
still predominated only in Middle field, and even there it had 
begun to yield. The survey is instructive in showing how natu- 
rally conditions arose which must soon have called for enclosure 
as a matter of convenience. 

Eggleston did not stand alone in its early sev^iteaith-century 
transformation. Westwick, situated a little way down the river, 
had b^un to make the change at the same time. Ajiart from 
large parcels of pasture which each holding had on the moor, 
from one-third to one-half of the fields (High, Middle, and Low) 
had become meadow. Whorlton, still farther down the Tees, 
was making a similar transition, though rather more than one- 
half of each holding in the three fields remained arable. At 
Bolam the arable and meadow in the fields (East, West, and 
North) were nearly equal in amoimt. At Willington, once more, 

' Cf. A]^)eiidiz m. For this and the Durham surveys mentioned bdow, see 
Land Rev., M. B. 192, 193. 


meadow predominated. Since these townships lie not on the 
fells, but in the valleys, and ance their erstwhile three-field char- 
acter is clear, we have here an interesting departure from the 
normal system. It appears that in several places in Durham the 
old open arable fields were in a state of decay. The tenants pre- 
ferred meadow and had converted into meadow many of their 
open-field strips. Pretty clearly the next stq) was to be consoli- 
dation and enclosure. Under these circimistances there could be 
no occasion for complaint about enclosure as preceding and in- 
ducing conversion. The processes were reversed, and the change 
thereby became more natural. 

The enclosure of many Durham townships seems to have oc- 
curred not very long after these Jacobean surveys were made. 
Miss Leonard has described the agreements, enrolled on the 
register of the court of the bishopric, by which the open fields 
of upwards of twenty townships were re-allotted between 1633 
and 1700. The preambles, she says, often assign as reason 
for the enclosure the fact that the land '' is wasted and worn 
with continual ploweing, and thereby made bare, barren and very 
unfruitefuU." ^ Doubtless this was a motive with such town- 
ships as still lay largely in arable, and we have seen them niuner- 
ous in the days of James I; but in those townships whose open 
fields had become largely meadow the desire to complete a 
process begun must have been operative. If so, we have ante- 
cedent changes in the field system as one explanation of the 
disappearance of open arable fields in Durham. 

Our somewhat prolonged progress through the two- and three- 
field area should ere this have served at least one end. It should 
have made clear .that, even within a territory unmistakably char- 
acterized by one type of open field, conditions were not uniform 
at the end of the sixteenth century. A stretch of forest or of 
wold might cause marked deviation; still more might a river 
with its bordering meadows. In the heart of the two- and three- 
field area departures from the norm were not frequent, but in 
the outlying counties they occurred often enough to threaten the 
integrity of the system. As a result, certain districts within the 

* " Inclosure of Common Fields," p. 117. 


boundary which the thirteenth century would have drawn round 
the two- and three-field area seem in the sixteenth century to 
detach themselves. Such in particular were the counties of the 
west, — Herefordshire and Shr<^)shire/ parts of Staffordshire, 
Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Gloucestershire, and Somerset, — 
the Isle of Wight in the south, and part of the county of Durham 
in the north. In Tudor days these were regions characterized by 
innovations in field systems, most of which looked toward the im- 
provement of agriculture. Either the arable of a township had 
been subdivided in such a way that more of it than before could 
be utilized for tillage, or large portions of it had been converted 
into remunerative meadow or pasture. The latter process had 
at times been accompanied by enclosure, at times not. Even if 
it had been, there is often no evidence that the tenants had been 
dispossessed. To ascertain more fully the relation existing be- 
tween the decadence of the midland field system and the advance 
of agriculture, especially the enclosure of the open fields, a closer 
study of what happened in typical coimties is essential. 

^ Since we have few satisfactory surveys from Shropshire, none have been sum- 
marized. That of the manor of Cleobuiy shows irregular field arrangements 
(Land Rev., M. B. 185, fit. 86-97, 21 Eliz.), and it is highly probable that the county 
differed little in this respect from Herefordshire on the south and Staffordshire on 
the east. 


The Later History of the MmLAND System in 
Oxfordshire and Herefordshire 

It was pointed out in the Introduction that agricultural progress 
in England would ultimately demand the disappearance of the 
opoi-field system. A form of tillage so inconvenient, so inflex- 
ible, so negligent of the productivity of the soil, could not long 
endure after technical improvement in plou^iing had made pos- 
sible its abandonment and after its social advantages had come 
to be disregarded. 

This significant change, however, it is clear, was not likely 
to take place suddenly, but improvements in the old system 
would dowly lead up to it. The probable substitution of three- 
field for two-field arrangements throughout a large part of the 
midlands during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries was 
only a first step in this advance. Other and later innovations 
have been disclosed in the preceding chapter. By the sixteenth 
century, it appears, some townships had already hedged in a part 
of their arable fields while leaving the remainder open, a piecemeal 
method of enclosure which seems to have been a kind of experi- 
ment imdertaken by men who would not yet risk the complete 
abandonment of open fields. Elsewhere innovation took the 
form of a multiplicity of fields. To judge from the allotment of 
tenants' acres among them, these numerous fields could not have 
been tilled in accordance with two- or three-field arrangem^its, 
and in them imdoubtedly less arable was left fallow each year 
than imder the normal system. Still other townships remained 
true to the principles of regularity, but subdivided their two 
fields into four, of which three were tilled annually. All these 
changes constitute a step in agricultural progress similar to that 
which substituted three fields for two. Each in its way sought 
the ultimate goal, a goal involving consolidation of parcels, 



enclosure of holdings, abandonment of fallowing, and the em- 
ployment of convertible husbandry. Together these innovations 
bring the subject of field systems into immediate touch with the 
subject of enclosures, a topic, of course, too comprehensive to 
be treated adequately except in an independent monograph.^ 
It can be discussed here only in relation to the final transforma- 
tion of midland open fields and the accompanying improvements 
in agriculture. 

An understanding of the situation can perhaps best be attained 
by an examination of typical districts. We should, for example, 
like to know how the midland system fared in a county where it 
once prevailed and where open fields longest remained. We 
should, again, like to know what happened in coimties where it 
once prevailed but where open fields early tended to evince irregu- 
larities and decay. In order to approach the subject in this 
manner, it will be advantageous to examine somewhat in detail 
the later open-field history of Oxfordshire, a county in which 
open fields long persisted. An accurate picture of the progress 
of events there will make dear what went on in most of the 
counties characterized by the two- and three-field system. A 
proper corrective will then be introduced by an examination of 
the earlier decline of the system in Herefordshire, a western 
county typical in this respect. 

An account of the midland system in Oxfordshire between the 
sixteenth and nineteenth centuries is without doubt best begun 
by a description of its condition at the time when it disappeared. 
How long and how extensively, one may ask, did it resbt attack, 
and what innovations had it meanwhile adopted ? Such ques- 
tions are in a measure answered by the parliamentary enclosure 
awards, few of which, it will be remembered, are earlier than 
1755 and few later than 1870. During this century, however, 
the journals of the commons and the lords are distended with 
the records of acts authorizing the enclosures which the awards 

These acts have been conveniently catalogued by Slater, who 
has also constructed maps which indicate roughly the areas 

* Cf. above, pp. la-ii. 


affected.^ Since many acts neglect to give even the approximate 
areas to be enclosed, his presentation could not attain to any 
considerable accuracy.' This defect can be remedied only by 
an appeal to the awards, a toilsome imdertaking upon which no 
one has yet ventured. Until it is attempted we shall have to 
accept Slater's results. For the counties of Oxford and Here- 
ford, however, it has here seemed best to consult all accessible 
awards, in order that the disappearance of the midland system 
within limited areas may be described as accurately as possible. 
This chapter, therefore, stands to Slater's lists and maps for these 
two coimties as the awards do to the acts. It forms a comple- 
tion of the sketch. 

The awards, ponderous as they are, do not always supply such 
exact information as is desirable, since their form and content 
varied considerably during the century which saw their prepara- 
tion. The early ones are relatively brief and uninforming, telling 
very little about the open fields which they enclosed save, at times, 
the nimiber of virgates and the total areas. Only toward 1800 
did it become usual in Oxfordshire to refer to the ancient field 
divisions in locating new allotments, and in many instances this 
was then done cursorily in the text, without notice of the old sub- 
divisions on the plan. Again, a large allotment was often assigned 
to several field areas without specification of how much belonged 
to each. Under these drcimistances it frequently becomes diffi- 
cult to tell exactly what was the size and what the arrangement 
of the old fields. Toward the middle of the nineteenth century 
the plans accompanying the awards, though large and detailed 

* English Peasantry f Appendix and maps. 

' Two abortcomings are most noticeable. One, in the ai^>endix, is due primarily 
to the neglect of the acts to state the areas to be enclosed. The phraseology of the 
acts, further, is often such that it is impossible to discriminate between arable field 
and common waste, whfle the Norfolk acts are deceptive in still another way 
(d. p. 305). The second shortcoming appears in the maps, whete no attempt is 
made to distinguish between townships in which there was a large amount of arable 
fidd remaining open until parliamentary enclosure and those in vdiich there was 
little. Townships in which there was any enclosure of arable whatever appear 
as do those in which there was much. It is questionable whether discrimination in 
this matter would not have been more acceptable in the maps than are the dis- 
tinctions by periods which the author has preferred to indicate. 


as to the arable strips, often have iK>thmg to say about fields, 
but require the student to puzde out the arrangem^it from the 
schedule, as has been done in the case of Chalgrove.^ These late 
awards, furthermore, like some earlier ones, do not trouble to 
add up the allotments, but throw that burden upon the investi- 
gator. Most annoying of all, however, is the brevity which, in 
both early and late awards, combines arable and waste without 
specifying the respective areas of each. For this reason it is 
often necessary to estimate the extent of the waste, and at 
times there are no data for such an estimate.' The entire en- 
closure has then to be set down as arable, an expedient which 
obviously exaggerates the amount of arable that was enclosed. 
A final difficulty comes in determining the areas of the old en- 
closures. Seldom are they stated. Sometimes they can be 
computed from the plan by a comparison of the space there as- 
signed to them with that assigned to the open areas. Again, 
when it may be assumed that the area of the township has re- 
mained substantially unchanged and that no other open common 
land existed save that described in the award (or awards), the 
old enclosures may be obtained by subtraction. To ascertain 
them in this way, we need only deduct the combined area of open- 
field arable and unenclosed waste from the area of the town- 
ship. Sometimes, lastly, the allotment for tithes is so described 
in the award that the part of it made in lieu of tithes due 
from old enclosures is distinguished from the part made in lieu 
of tithes due from oi>en fields. Since the former was about 
one-ninth of the value of the old enclosures,' the area of these 

* Cf. above, p. 21. 

* In the later awards the allotment to the lord of the manor, as such, for his 
rights in the waste was about one-fifteenth or one^sixteenth of the waste divided. 
In the tables of the Appendix the area of the uncultivated common has often been 
computed from this entry. 

* It is so in the award for Blackthorn, Oxons. At Sandford St. Martin it was one- 
sixth, at Burford one-fifth. The estimate in question is valid only if no old en- 
closures had already been exempted from tithes. A divergence between an esti- 
mate got in this way and the area obtained by subtracting the total enclosure from 
the total area of the township may arise because some old enclosures had already 
been exempted before the award was made. The divergences are noted below in 
Appendix IV. 


enclosures may in such cases be computed. When different com- 
putations as to the areas of old enclosures do not agree, the 
area got by subtracting open-field arable and waste from the 
entire township has been here adopted. Despite all the \mc6r- 
tainties attendant upon the examination of the awards, a study 
of them repays the labor, since the information which they 
yield is far more precise than that to be secured in any other 

The open fields of Oxfordshire which were enclosed by act of 
parliament are set down township by township in Appendix IV. 
The townships are grouped in accordance with the percentage of 
the area in each which, exclusive of the waste, was thus enclosed. 
This arrangement amoimts to a comparison between the open- 
field arable and meadow on the one hand and the old enclosures 
on the other. The assignment of a township to a group has 
depended upon whether the land to be enclosed, apart from the 
waste, amounted to more than three-fourths of the township's 
total area, or to less than three-fourths but to more than one- 
half of it, or to less than one-half but to more than one-fourth 
of it, or, lastly, to less than one-fourth of it. The history of 
parliamentary enclosure between 1758 and 1867 S as thus told 
by the awards,^ may be siunmarized as follows, reference being 
had to the number of townships that fall within the respective 
groups and to the ratio which the areas of the groups bear to the 
total area of the county (478,112 acres *)• 

In 89 townships more than three-fourths of the area, exclusive 
of the waste, was enclosed by parliamentary award during the 
century in question, and these townships represent 29 per cent 
of the county's area. In 58 townships, which constitute 22.1 
per cent of the count3r's area, between one-half and three-fourths 
of the improved area was ^idosed. In 28 townships, comprising 

1 The Mixbuiy act dates from 1729, and the Crowell award was made in 1882; 
but all other parliamentary enclosures of arable fields in Oxfordshire fall between 
the years mentioned. 

* In fifteen instances the information b taken from the petiti<His for enclosure, 
^th one exception the awards in these cases are neither at Oxford nor at the 
Public Record Office. 

* This is the area of the land. The area of land and water Is 480*687 acres. 


12.6 per cent of the county, the arable or meadow affected was 
between one-fourth and one-half of the respective areas. In i6 
townships the fraction sank to less than one-fourth, the town- 
ships themselves amounting to 7.55 per cent of the county. For 
28.75 per cent of Oxfordshire there is no record of parliamentary 
enclosure. The townships that fall within the respective groups 
are indicated on the accompanying plan. (See next page.) 

Stated more synthetically, the total amoimt of open-field arable 
which the tables show to have been enclosed by act of parliament 
was 193,781 acres, or 40.53 per cent of the entire county. These 
figures somewhat overestimate the actual amount, since, as has 
been noticed, the character of the awards has at times made it 
impossible to separate arable from waste. Probably the above 
percentage should be reduced to about 37 per cent. The differ- 
ence should be added to the percentage which represents the 
unimproved waste, and which our tables, most defective at this 
point, show to have been at least 5.83 per cent of the coimty's 
area (27,862 acres out of 478,112). Our estimate of the unim- 
proved lands in the coimty in 1750 thus assigns to them about 9 
per cent of its entire surface. 

After deducting the open-field arable and the imenclosed com- 
mons, we are left with the old eiclosures. According to the 
estimates of the tables these amounted to 256469 acres, or 53.61 
per cent of the county. As was stated above, from townships 
which represent 28.75 i>er cent of the coimty there is no record of 
parliamentary action; the remaining old enclosed lands (24.86 
per cent of the county's area) fall within townships some parts 
of which were enclosed by award. These large percentages im- 
ply, of course, that the enclosure history of the county prior to 
1750 is a matter of no small moment. In what way these old 
enclosures were brought about, what motives lay behind the proc- 
ess, to what extent they represented simply an improvement in 
agriculture, what relation they bore to field systems, — these are 
subjects that now demand consideration. 

If we turn to those Oxfordshire townships which enclosed their 
arable without parliamentary act, we shall be able to get some 
hints, though not always very accurate information, as to how 


this came about. ^ Formal act and formal enclosiire might be 
altogether obviated if the proprietors of the common fields could 
agree to keep to their own parcels and renoimce the exercise of 
conmion rights. This is said to have happened at Ewehn, which 
has never had an independent enclosure award; ^ but to make 
such an imderstanding possible the open-field parcels must have 
been to a large extent consolidated. Another method is reported 
by Arthur Young, who tells of an enclosure devised by a single 
proprietor. " The parish of Clifton/' he wrote in 1809, " thirty- 
nine years ago was allotted by Mr. Hucks, being a private ar- 
rangement of his own. Each farm was enclosed by an outline 
fence but was not subdivided." ' It was usual, however, to secure 
for volimtary agreements some formal sanction; and an interest- 
ing illustration of this practice, joined with an explanation of how 
the agreement was brought about, comes from the years when 
enclosures were authorized by parliament. In 1783 a petition 
was presented to that body asking its sanction for an enclosure 
which had been accomplished at Hanwell fifteen years before. 
The method there employed had been the purchase by the lord 
of the manor, Sir Charles Cope, of all interests in the open fields 
except the glebe land and the tithes. Enclosure had then pro- 
ceeded apace.^ Since Hanwell is the site of a castle and a park, 

^ I have, for example, found no record of how the parish of Cuxham came to be 
enclosed. A map of 1767, which shows much of it still open, has been published 
by J. L. G. Mowat, Sixteen (M Maps of Properties in Oxfordshire^ Oxford, 

* Leonard, " Inclosure of Common Fields,'' p. loi, n. 3. The award for Ben- 
sington is concerned with certain lands in Ewelm. 

* Agriculture of Oxfordshire, p. 91. 

* See Journal of the House of Commons, petition of 5 February, 1783, "Setting 
forth, That about the Year 1768 ... the said Sir Charles Cope being then Lord 
of the Manor of Hanwell, and seised of the perpetual Advowson . . . to the Rec- 
tory and Parish Church of Hanwell aforesaid, and likewise being seised for Life, 
or in Fee, or some other Estate of Inheritance, of the greatest Part of the Lands of 
the said Manor, did purchase to him and his Heirs, the Estates and Interests of the 
several Copyholders, Life, and Leaseholders, and other Proprietors of the Remain- 
der of the said Open and Common Fields, and other Lands, within the said Parish, 
in order to the inclosing the same; and the Open and Common Fields, Common- 
able Lands, Cow Pasture, Heath, and Waste Grounds, within the said Manor and 
Parish of Hanwell, were thereupon inclosed, and have ever since been held in 


it is natural that most of the township should, as the petition 
states, have been in the possession of the lord of the manor before 
the purchases of 1768. 

Enclosure by agreement did not necessarily involve the buy- 
ing out of the tenants. Before the days of parliamentary activ- 
ity the enclosure of open fields in the large parish of Charlbury 
was made possible by a deed of agreement drawn up in 1715.^ 
It bears fifty-seven signatures with seals, and sets forth that the 
interested parties are possessed of '' several parcells of freehold, 
leasehold and coppyhold lands lyeing and being in Certain Com- 
mon fields of Charlbury af orsaid and commonly called or known 
by the name of the Homefield lands in which said common fields 
the owners and occupyers of lands therein upon each others 
Lands there every other year have right of common." There- 
upon it is agreed that '' each party [is] to enclose his or her own 
parcel or parcells of land in the said Comon fields at his or her 
own costs and Charges and to enjoy the same soe Inclosed in 

This deed may have been enrolled in chancery, as Miss Leonard 
foimd was the case during the seventeenth century with several 
similar ones from various parts of England.' It is pretty dear, 
if we may rely upon the notes written on the glebe terriers, that 
chancery sanction was given to the enclosure of Middleton Stony 
at almost the same time. Of that parish a terrier records in 
1679 that the glebe lay in sixty-four parcels in the open fields. In 
1 701 a second terrier states that '' Part of the Glebe Lands . . . 
was taken out of the common Field about 15 years agoe and In- 
clos'd by a generall consent of the inhabitants." Finally a terrier 
of 1716 explains that the glebe is '' all inclosed and. a Decree in 
chancery for a Rate Tythe pap'd Anno 17 14 — all parties con- 
senting."' Though chancery is said to have authorized only the 
" Rate Tythe," it is likely that all matters connected with the 
enclosure were thus sanctioned. There is no later information 
about open fields at Middleton Stony. 

^ This deed is with the derk of the peace at Oxford. 

' '* Indosure of Common Fields," pp. loS-iio. 

' Bodleian, Oxfordshire Archdeaconry Papers, £f. 36, 37. 


We have still earlier enclosure agreements from Oxfordshire. 
In 1667 ei^t proprietors and three commissioners were parties 
to a deed by which they divided '' all the lands lying in the late 
open, and common fields (rf Finmere." ^ To the ei^t were 
allotted 1273 acres. In 1662 Thomas Horde, Esq. entered into 
an agreement with the freeholders and copyholders of AsUm and 
Ck>te, iidierd)y it was declared ** lawful at all times hereafter, as 
well for the Lord of the Manor . . . as for all or any the, toiants 
and owners of lands in Aston and Cote aforesaid, to inclose all 
or any their respective arable lands there." The interest of the 
lord of the manor seems to have been the motive force here, since 
there is q)ecial proviso for his immediate action.* That the 
tenants did not fully avail themselves of their privil^e is indi- 
cated by the fact that most of the common arable field remained 
open until enclosed by act of parliament in 1855. 

Earliest of the extant Oxfordshire enclosure agre^nents is one 
relative to Bletchingdon. In 1622 the lord of the manor, the 
rector, and the tenants drew up a tripartite indenture declaring 
that ** a general divisicm is now intended to be had and made of 
all and singular ye messuages lands and Tenements. . . . And 
also of all ... the Arable Lands, Meadows, Pastures, Heathy 
Furzes, Ccnnmcms, Wastes and Wast grounds hereafter men- 
tioned . . . and also of and in all and every the Glebe Lands 
lying dispersed in the fields of Bletchingdon." There\qx>n are 
enumerated and apportioned some 500 acres of open field and 
600 acres of ** Heath." Rights of common are renounced, and 
the enclosure history of the townshq> is brou^t to an end.' 

1 The deed is with the derk of the peace, Oxford. It is printed by J. C. Blom- 
fidd, History of PtHmerCf Buddngfaam, 1887. 

' The deed of agreement continues: '' Mr. Horde may, as soon as he pleaseth, 
indose 54 fidd acres of arable land lying together in the Holiwell fidd next to 
the capital messuage in Cote aforesaid, which said 54 acres is as much arable as 
usually bdongs to two yard-^nds in Aston and Cote . . . [and he] may indose 
as much of Common called Cote Moor , . . as the proportion of two yards of 
conmion shall amount unto. ..." In other cases he and the tenants are to give 
in exchange " other lands of as good value as those for which he shall so indose.'^ 
J. A. Gfles, History of the Parish and Town of Bampton (2d edition, Hampton, 1848), 
Supplement, pp. 8^-9. 

* The indenture is at the Shire Hall, Oxford. 


These illustrations may serve to explain how certain town- 
ships were getting enclosed during the century which preceded 
parliamentary activity. No other deeds than those just de- 
scribed are available, but we are not without due as to what 
townships made similar changes. The niunerous glebe terriers 
of the seventeenth century,^ usually dated between 1634 and 
1689,* show that certain parishes for which there are no parlia- 
moitary awards were still open when the terriers were drawn up. 
Of such there are fourteen instances.' Unless awards have been 
lost, the fourteen townships were enclosed by voluntary agree- 
ment, in most cases probably during the century which elapsed 
between the date of the terrier and the beginning of parliamentary 
enclosure. Since the series of glebe terriers is incomplete and 
gives no information about several townships which are later 
found enclosed, still other enclosures than these fourteen and the 
six described above may have been effected in the same way. 

Several of these seventeenth-century terriers, however, picture 
the glebe as already enclosed, a circumstance which brings us to 
a consideration of those Oxfordshire townships in which enclosure 
occurred before 1634. We are here in a reafan of conjecture, but 
a few surmises are permissible. In the first place, it will be 
remembered that certain of the townships which in the parlia- 
mentary awards had less than one-fourth of their tillable groimd 
in open field lay in the Chiltem r^on.^ In no Chiltem township 
was there much open-field arable,^ and some of them we shall 
be prepared to find without indication of any whatever. Such 
is the case with ei^t townships on the summits and eastern 
slopes of the hills.* These w^re upland wooded areas, without 

1 Cf. bdow, p. 134. * That for WateratodL is dated 1609. 

* Ardley, Broughton Poggs, Comwell, Cuxham (still open in 1767), Elsfield, 
Emmington, Glympton, Hardwick (near Bicester), Kiddington, Newton Purcell, 
Rousham, Steq>le Barton, Waterstock, Wood Eaton. 

^ Chakenden, Goring, Ipsden, Rotherfield Gre3r8. 

* Four other townships that extend from the Chiltems well into the plain — 
Surbura, South Stoke, WatUngton, and Whitdiurch — had between one-fourth 
and one-half of their improved grounds in open field. No other Chiltem town- 
ship than the eight mentioned had any open fiekL 

* Biz, Kidmore, Nettlebed, Nuffield, P^hill, Rotherfield Peppard, Swyncombe, 



doabt directly enclosed from the forest Five other early en- 
closed townships lay in the plain betweai the hills and the river,^ 
a situation that probably had something to do with the absence 
of open fields, although two nei^boring townshqas retained such 
fields until well into the nineteenth century.^ In general, the 
Chiltems, iq>art from certain areas near the Thames, are to be 
looked upon as a forest region in which enclosure was early and 
probably coincident with improvement from the forest state.' 

The condition of such of these townships as lay between the 
hills and the Thames suggests another reason for early enclosure, 
namely, proximity to a river. Already situations of this kind 
have been instanced to explain Tudor and Jacobean irregularities 
in field arrangements. May they not also have been responsible 
for a further step — the conversion to enclosed pasture of lands 
obviously fitted for such use ? The three large streams of 
Oxfordshire are the Thames, the Cherwell, and the Thame. If 
we run through the list of early enclosed townships, we find that 
no fewer than nineteen of them were meadow townships lying 
on or near these streams.^ Most are of small sise, containing 
from 500 to 1000 acres apiece, a drcimistance also conducive 
to prompt enclosure. There were, of course, many riverside 
townships which retained open arable fields; but since they were 
in general larger than the nineteen in question, speedy conver- 
sion of all their open fields to pasture would have been more 

We come finally to a group of townships the early enclosure of 
which is explained by their history. Each has long been notable 
as the site of a mediaeval monastery, an ancient manor-house, 

' Eye and Dunflden, Henley-on-Thames and Badgemoie, Greys, Hf>«pffdfTi^ 

* Cavenham and Shiplake. 

* Except in three or four instances the hamlets near Wychwood forest, unlike 
those of the Chiltems, had open fields and retained a part of them until the time 
of parliamentary enclosure. Long. Coombe, whose field irregularities have already 
been noticed (p. 84, above), may have been enclosed eariy, sinoe no endoeure 
award is forthcoming. 

« Langford, Radcot, Bampton, Chimney, Shiffoid, Lew, Yel£oid, Begbrook, 
Binsey, Marston, Cutslow, Gosford, Hampton Gay, Newnham Murrcn, Monge- 
well, Chippinghurst, Stadhampton, Albury, Tiddington. 


or at least as the residence of a county family. In each, 
furthermore, there is likely to be an extensive park. Notable 
residences and parks were, to be sure, frequently found where 
there was enclosure by act of parliament In these cases their 
owners had increased the old enclosed area, but had not succeeded 
in becoming sole piroprietors within the townships in question. 
What a nobleman or a gentleman of consequence in the sixteenth 
century, however, considered most desirable as a residence was 
an entire townshq>. The extensive home manors of the mon- 
asteries, often provided with well-built dwellings, formed ideal 
seats for the rismg gentry who secured them. As luxurious life in 
the country became fashionable, each coimty came to have its 
large Tudor and Jacobean houses. In Oxfordshire there are 
thirty-four townshq)6 entirely given over to residential estates 
of this kind. Five are the sites of mcmastic houses — Bruem, 
Chilworth, Clattercote, Minster Lovell, Sandford. Seven boast 
Elizabethan or Jacobean mansions — Chastleton, Combury, 
Fifield, Neithrop, Water Eaton, Weston-on-Green, Yamton. 
Elsewhere the houses are of a somewhat later date, but some, like 
Blenheim and Nimeham Courtenay, are well known.^ Together 
the thirty-four constitute 8.4 per cent of the area of the county. 
Often two of the reasons above given to explain enclosures 
earlier than 1634 applied to the same pari^. Stonor is in the 
CUltems and at the same time is the seat of Lord Camoys, with 
mansion and park; Combury Park, Dichley Park, and Wood- 
stock Park, all notable residential estates, lie within the andait 
area of Wychwood forest. At Sandford-on-the-Thames were a 
preceptory of the Templars and the priory of Littlemore. Just 
below is Nuneham Park, and above on the bank of the Cherwell 
is the Jacobean manor-house of Water Eaton. The coincidence 
of park and stream is natural, since the taste of the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries dictated that, if possible, a mansion be 
built not far from a stretch of water. 

^ Besides the sites of the five monasteries and the seven Elizabethan or Jaco- 
bean mansjons, the residential townships were and are Adwell, North Aston, Ascot, 
Attington, Blenheim, Chislehampton, Crowmarch Gifford, Cuddesdon, Coding- 
tcm, Holton, Holwell, Nuneham Courtenay, Little RoUright, Shdswell, Souldem, 
Stonor, Thomley, Tusmore, Over Warton, Waterperry, Wheatfield, Wilcote. 


The four general reasons advanced to explain enclosures in 
Oxfordshire — parliamentary activity, voluntary agreement, 
situation within a forest area or beside a river, and the exbtence 
of an ancient residential estate — have accoimted for nearly all 
the townships within the county. For fifteen, however, no ex- 
planation is at hand. Most of these are small, a circumstance 
which in itself favored consolidation and enclosure.^ In the case 
of the half-dozen larger ones special causes may have been at 
work or explanatory data may have disappeared. 

So far as it is explicable by two of the foregoing reasons, the 
achievement of early enclosure was probably a normal devel(q>- 
ment. A favorable situation beside a river was itself an impetus, 
and voluntary agreement indicates acquiescent tenants. So far, 
however, as the desire to form a residential estate was responsible 
for enclosure, high-handed measures on the part of the lord may 
not have been absent. In townships where this motive came 
into play, whether directed toward the absorption of the entire 
area or affecting only a large part of it,* investigators should seek 
for the activity of the sixteenth-century evicting landlord — so 
far, indeed, as this existed.' 

If we now return to those townships which in time became the 
object of parliamentary concern and inquire what agricultural 
progress they had made before their enclosure, we shall discover 
that, although in some regions it was negligible, in others it w^ 

> Warpsgrove 334 acres and Easington 295 (both in the flat fertile valley of 
the Thame), Stowood 593 (formerly eztra-parochial, near Beckley), Henaingtoo 
603 (adjacent to the borough of Woodstock), Widford 549 (adjacent to Burford 
and now owned by a single proprietor), Ambrosden 600 (the residential part of a 
parish which once included Blackthorn and Amcot), Prescote 551 (set off from 
Cn^ready), and Nether Worton 733. The township of Studley (951 acres) has 
been transferred from Bucks, and Little Faringdon (1161 acres) lay in Berks, when 
its open fields were enclosed in 1788. There remain a half-dozen larger townships 
for the enclosure of which I have no explanation, — Tetsworth (near Thame) 1x78 
acres, Grimsbury (a rural township set off from the old parish of Banbury) 1218, 
Middle Aston 894, and, in the southwestern uplands, Crawley 11 23 (carved from 
the old area of the borough of Witney), and Shilton 1596. 

' The existence of a considerable residential estate is responsible for the pre- 
ponderance of enclosures in certain townships which, since they later became the 
objects of paiiiamentary award, ai^>ear in the last two groups of Appendix IV. 

' On the subject, see Gay's '' Midland Revolt " and other papers (cf. above, 
p. II, n. i). 


considerable and had manifested itself as a change of field systems. 
Although relatively few of the maps that accompany the awards 
give accurate pictures of the old fields, aiough of them do so to 
illustrate the situation. The plans of the Chiltem townships 
may, for the time, be disregarded. Since the midland system 
did not prevail in that region, irregular fields, such as these plans 
show, were to be expected there. We shall return to them later.^ 
In the rest of the coimty, an area once entirely given over to 
the two- and three-field system, a diversity of field arrangement 
had arisen between the sixteenth century and the nineteenth. 
Occasionally an award or a plan shows the two ^n^le old fields 
bearing the old names. The Kencott award of 1767 quotes the 
act to the effect that there were '^ by estimation in the two open 
common fields, the East field and the West field, about 731 acres." 
All the allotments at Hook Norton and Southrop in 1774 were 
in either the Northside field or the Southside field. At Amcott, 
in 18 16, there were 533 acres in the West field and 555 in the 
East fidd. The Taynton award and plan of 1822 have, beside3 
the common, only the two large fields, East and West. These 
four townships lie in the Cotswold uplands, where the two-field 
systeni was once almost universal. That only one-half of their 
arable was cultivated yearly after the middle of the eighteenth 
century may seem incredible; yet there is nothing in the awards 
to show that field conditions had changed since the thirteenth 
century. We have, indeed, foimd the Charlbury agreemait of 
1715 declaring that the owners and occiqiiers oflands in the open 
fields '' upon each others Lands there every other year have right 
of common." We have, too, the definite statement of Richard 
Davis, who made the first report on Oxfordshire to the Board of 
Agriculture in 1794. '^ Some open fields," he says, '^ are in the 
course of one crop and a fallow, others of two, and a few of three 
crops and a fallow. In divers imindosed parishes the same rota- 
tion prevails over the whole of the open fields; but in others the 
more homeward or bettermost land is oftener cropped, or some- 
times cropped every year." * 

> Cf. bdow, Chapter DC. 

' Gemeral View cf tke AgricuUure of the CowUy of Oxffftd (Londoiv x794)» P- n* 


For the most part, however, the two-field system seems to have 
disappeared m Oxfordshire before the era of parliamentary en- 
closure. Arthur Young, who in 1809 made for the Board of 
Agricidture a second and more elaborate rqx>rt on agrarian 
conditions within the county, says nothing about it Yet he 
does note the continued employment of the three-field rotation, 
especially on the rich lands west from Thame,^ an observation 
that is borne out by the enclosure maps. The tithe map of Chal- 
grove has been reproduced,^ and the same district furnishes 
several three-field enclosure plans. At Thame itself there were in 
1826, besides two very small fields, three large ones called Priest 
End, West, and Black Ditch, while the same plan shows, in the 
adjacent hamlet of Morton, fields alike in size named Costall, 
Horsenden, and Chin Hill. The accuracy of this repres^itation 
is confirmed by an excellent eighteenth-century map of Morton, 
the strips of which lie in the same three fields, the last being called 
Little field.' A third township affected by the award of 1826 
was Sydenham, whose three equal fields were Upper, Forty, and 
Lower. Near by, with only one intervening parish, are Lewknor 
and its hamlet Postcombe, each of them in a plan of 18 15 
showing three fields regularly disposed roimd the village.^ Not 
five miles away is Stoke Talmage, where in 181 1 the same neat 
arrangement was to be seen.^ Berwick Prior, too, in 181 5 re- 
tained its three fields.* Most striking pertiaps of all this group 
is the township of Crowell, where the enclosure of the arable is 
the last recorded in Oxfordshire, being delayed imtil 1882. Yet 
even at that date Crowell had three open fields, which bore the 
unassimdng old names of Upper, Middle, and Lower. 

1 AgricuUure of Oxfordshire, p. 127, "On the open field near Thame (the 
rotation b], (i) Fallow, (2) Wheat, (3) Beans on a very fine reddish loamy sand 
and the crops great "; p. 123, " On the ezcdknt deap loams between Stoken- 
church and Tetsworth, (i) Fallow, (2) Wheat, (3) Beans "; p. 13, " Morton field 
[next Thame] a stiff loam . . . two crops and a fallow "; p. 133, ** On the open 
fields at Baldons the old course, (i) Fallow, (2) Wheat, (3) Bariey, oats," etc. 

' Cf. above, p. 20. • Add. MS. 34551. 

* The Lewknor fields were Road, Middle, and Sherbum; those of Postcombe 
were Clay, Little, and North. 

* Three equal fields, Westcut, Middle, and Temple Lake. 

* They were named Marsh, Middle, and Town, and lay compactly, to the north- 
east of the village. 


At the begiiining of the nineteenth century there were more 
three-field townships in the region round about Thame than in 
all the rest of Oxfordshire. Besides those maitioned, Little Mil- 
ton, littlemore, Wheatley, Headington, and Islip had each sub- 
divided three fields into six. A little to the north were Beckley, 
Piddingt<m, and Bicester Market End, also showing at the some- 
what earlier date when they were enclosed three fields apiece. In 
short, if with Oxford as a center a quadrant were to be described 
from Bicester (fifteen miles to the northeast) toward the east 
and south, it would indude several townships which still, in 
1800 or even in 1825, were cultivated in the three-field manner. 
Since this region was noticeably the last in the county to 
Undergo enclosure, the system seems not to have been wanting 
in tenacity. 

Elsewhere in Oxforddiire few traces of the three-field system 
2^>pear in the parliamentary enclosure awards, except just to 
the west of Oxford.^ What had happened can be read on many 
pages of Arthur Young's account and verified from the enclosure 
plans. The change amounted to a substantial improvement in 
agriculture. Many of the townships had adopted a four-field 
system,* with a four-course rotation of crops, the latter in general 
being (i) fallow, (2) wheat, (3) beans, (4) barley or oats.' 
Young's illustrations are for the most part from the regions north 
andj^est of Oxford, although he dtes Garsington, situated in the 
district in which we have seen the three-field rotation holding 
its own. The order of the four courses varied only at Dedding- 
ton, where it was (i) fallow, (2) wheat, (3) barley, (4) peas or 

These accounts of four-course tillage are confirmed by the plans 
and enumerations of the endosure awards. The region round 
Oxford is again the one which furnishes most illustrations. At 

^ There seem to have been three unportant fidds at Eynsham in 1802, six at 
DuddingtoD in 1839, <uid six at Curbridge in 1845. These parishes lay dose 
together, ten or fifteen miles west of Oxford. 

' Davis in the quotation given above says " a few " townships, but the evidence 
about to be dted seems to show that they were numerous. 

* Young, AgrictiUitrc cf Oxfordshire, pp. 111-130. So at Bampton, Hanq>ton 
Poyle, Garsington, Taddey, Wood Eaton, Wendiebury, Bicester Kings End, Kid- 
lington, Kelmscott. 


Hampton Poyle, Wher^ Youiig noted a four-coiirse' rotation, Uie 
award enumerates five fields -^ Lower, Bletchingdon, Gretting- 
don, Collet, Friezeman's WeH — but the last one was probably 
small. At Standlake, though several areas are named in the 
award of 1853^ four fields stand out. North, South, Church, and 
Rickland. At Culham four fields are q)ecified on the plan — 
North Middle, South Middle, Ham, and Costard — and they 
are shown to be relatively equal in size. Frequently the divi* 
sions were no Icmger called fields, but had come to be known as 
'' quarters." At Hailey, in the parish of Witney, one (rf the 
four (q>en-field areas was in 1824 called Home field, but the others 
were Crowley quarter, Middle quarter, and Witney quarter. 
At Kingham, on the western edge of the county, the plan, 
drawn in 1850 and sketched in the cut on the next page,^ indi- 
cates six quarters; but the glebe terrier of 1685 shows that only 
four of these quarters (Ryeworth, Withcumbe, Brookside, Broad- 
moor) were at that time important, a fifth not being mentioned 
and a sixth consisting of " every yeares Land." * 

Division by quarters is particularly characteristic of northern 
Oxfordshire. This r^on, which lies round Banbury, is possessed 
of a fertile soil known as ** redland " and adapted to improved 
cultivation. If but one of Yoimg's illustrations of four-course 
rotation, that of Deddington, comes from here, the reason is that 
nearly all townships hereabouts had already been enclosed when 
he wrote, having been among the first in the county to apply to 
parliament Their awards, however, make it dear, by references 
to field divisions, that four quarters were existent at the time. 
At Sandford near Tew the old fields, North and South, had seen 
appear beside them two large '^ quarters " fully as important, 
caUed Down and Beacon. At Wardington in 1762 South field 
had become South field quarter, and ranked along with Ash^ 
Spelham, and Meerhedge quarters. Near by, the township of 
Ndthrop, a rural division of Banbury, had before 1 760 divided its 
open fields into four quarters — ThoakweU, Lower, Forkham, 
and Greenhill.' Seldom was the nomenclature of the old fields 

> The award is at the Shire Hall, Oxford. ' Cf. above, p. 92. 

' Frequently the relative areas of the quarters cannot be ascertained, since in 


retained, and the names applied to the quarters indicate that the 
formation of them was recent. 

In several instances the awards picture nothing so comprehen- 
sible as a four-fold division; instead of this, furlongs acquire 

Skeloli of the AiokMare Map 
of the Township of Klng^uun, 
Ozfordahire. ItfQ. 



Map VU 

prominence, and are the principal areas of which cognizance is 
taken.^ At Sibford Ferris in 1790 the allotments lay in the 

early awards the plans take no account of afhtecedent conditions and a single large 
allotment sometimes extended into more than one quarter. At Cropredy, for 
instance, the total allotment was 1582 acres. To Sir William Boothby, Bart., were 
assigned, in lieu of 33I yard-lands, 961 acres in Howland quarter, Hackthom 
quarter, Qzley fields and quarter. Elsewhere a quarter called Heywey frequently 

1 So, for exan^ile, at Drayton near Banbiuy, Fritwell, Spelsbury, Stonesfidd, 
Little Tew. 


furlongs named Shroudhill, Stonewall, Seven Acres, White Butt, 
Middle, Boyer, Townsend, Blackland, Longman's Pool, Gore, 
Bush, Pitch, Church, etc., as well as in several other areas not 
called furlcmgs (e. g., Wagboroug^, and Long Stone Hill). When 
large divisions of the arable have become thus obscured, it 
is natural to find in some townships the niunber of quarters 
increasing, since these too may have ceased to retain agrarian 
significance and may have become largely topographical At 
Burford in 1795 they niunbered seven, at Duns Tew in 1794 ei^t, 
and at Neat Enstone in 1843 eleven.^ The result of disintcigra- 
tion of this kind was often a bewildering array of field names, in 
which fields, quarters, furlongs, and nondescript patdies were 
indiscriminately mingled.* At Eidlington in 18 15 the aUot- 
ments lay in nine fields, four furlongs, and a half-dozen miscel- 
laneous areas. At West Chadlington in 1814 the more important 
open-field areas were Lower field, Lockland quarter. Crosses 
Quarry quarter. Gardens quarter. Banks quarter, Bladunore 
Brakes quarter, Cockcrof t Stone quarter. Green Benches quarter, 
Broad^de quarter, Ashcroft furlong. Cooper's Ash furlong, 
Standalls Pit furlongs. Quarry furlong. Berry Hill, the Down, 
Broadslade Mill Hill, Thomwood, Great Lands, and Lone Land 
Hill. These areas were presumably grouped in some manner for 
a r^ular rotation of crops, but the inability to locate allotments 
more simply shows that large field divisions had become obsolete. 
Under such circumstances the grouping of the many quarters 
and furlongs could, for the sake of improved tillage, be easily 
changed by decree of the manorial court. How this was done 
may be illustrated from three court rolls of Great Tew, a town- 
ship on the edge of the redland district.' The rolls date from 
the autumns of 1756, 1759, and 1761, nearly a decade before the 

> HuU Bush, Abigals, Sturt, BaUodge, White Hill, Windmore Hedge, Whores; 
Berry Fldd, Tuly Tree, Tomwell, Whittington, Ridges, Sands, Red Hill, Lands; 
Hore Stone, Great Stone, Long Lands, Lady Acre, Heythiop, Leazow Hedge,' 
FoUy, Crook of the Hedges, Long Weeding, Sleepwalk, Slate Pits. All are called 

• So at Westcot and Middle Barton, Bloxham, Churdi Enstone, Ifflcy, Mil- 
combe, Swinbrook, Wendlebury, Wigginton. 

» P. Vinogradoflf, "An lUustiation of the Continuity of the Openfidd System, 
Appendix, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 1907, xxii, 74-82. 


enclosure of the open fields of Great Tew in 1767. The first two 
are not dear about field divisions or the rotation of crops. The 
third, dated October, 1761, is specific, enumerating the open fields 
in ei^t divisions, as follows: (i) Huckerswell, (2) Between the 
Hedges, (3) Upper Barnwell, (4) The Lower side of Woodstock 
way beyond the Brook, (5) Gaily Thems and the old Hill, (6) 
Park Hill and Great Qzenden, (7) Upper Qxenden, plank pitts, 
ten Lands . . . Wheat Land, Broad and picked Castors, HoUow- 
marsh Hill to Alepath, (8) Alepath to the Great Pool and the 
West field from Alepath and Woodway Ford. The first of these 
divisions was to be subject to an eight-coxurse rotation beginning 
the following spring and observing the following succession: (i) 
turnips, (2) barley with grass seeds, (3) hay, (4) sheepwalk, (5) 
oats, (6) fallow, (7) wheat, (8) peas. The second division was 
to begin the same rotation a year later, the third two years later, 
and so on throughout the series. Eight presmnably equal divi- 
sions of the open fields were, in short, arranged for an eight-course 
rotation of crops. 

That this arrangement was not new in 1761, but that certain 
of the areas mentioned were at the earlier dates sown precisely 
as they would have been had the specified rotation been in force, 
is suggested by four items in the first two rolls. Thus, in the 
spring of 1757 Upper Barnwell was destined for spring grain and 
grass seeds, while Between the Hedges was the clover quarter. 
Eight years later, as we have seen, the same crops were assigned 
to these areas. According to the second roll the Upper Oxenden 
group was in the spring of 1761 to be sown with barley and grass 
seeds, while Paii^ Hill and Great Qzenden were in 1760 to be 
" lay'd down with rye grass and dover " (i. e., mowed for hay). 
The specifications of the third roll were to the effect that the same 
situations should prevail in the req)ective divisions eight years 
later. An eight-course rotation and the subdivision of the open 
fields into eight parts thus seem to antedate 1756, the date of 
the first roll, but by how much we cannot say. 

These arrangements amounted to the introduction of a second 
four-course rotation besides the one described by Arthur Young. 
The normal four-course succession, it will be perceived, iqqpears 


in (5) oats, (6) fallow, (7) wheat, (8) peas. After this came the 
new rotaticm, (i) turnips, (2) bariey with seeds, (3) grass mowed, 
(4) grass pastured by sheep. The innovation lay in the direction 
of turnip and grass cultivation, half of the wheat crop having 
been replaced by hay, and the sheq> being pastured on a sward 
rather than on fallow ground. Upon the fidds the effect of this 
dght-course arrangement was the formation of small areas, no 
longer even formally named '^ quarters." Once, however, Be- 
tween the Hedges is referred to as the " Clover quarter," and 
elsewhere we hear of the '' Turnip division." If the other town- 
Ships of northern Oxfordshire which in the awards have such 
confusing field divisions owed them to the same cause, an eight- 
course rotation of crops or something similar must have been 
well known at the very time when parliamentary enclosure was 

All this, of course, implies marked improvement in open-field 
agriculture. Although the eight-course rotati<xi may perhaps be 
looked upon as a special refinement, not wide^read, there can 
be no doubt about the extent and importance of four-field and 
four-course arrangements. They probably constituted the preva- 
lent method of open-field cultivation in Oxfordshire in 1750. 
The enclosure history of the townships in which they prevailed 
seems, moreover, to warrant a generalization. So long as the 
three-field system maintained itself intact, landlord and tenants 
were inclined to rest content and allow the fields to remain open. 
For this reason the district southeast of Oxford round about 
Thame, which clung to its three fields imtil into the nineteenth 
century, was the last part of the coimty to imdergo enclosure. 
Where, however, four-field and ei^t-field husbandry had come 
to prevail, as they had in the north and west of the county, 
enclosure was favored. The tenants, already in advance of the 
inhabitacfts of three-field townships, were prepared to outstrip 
them still more. As soon as parliamentary facilities were offered, 
acceptance was general; within two or three decades nearly all 
of the north and west became enclosed. Great Tew itself yielded 
in 1767, thereby revealing, it would seem, a connection between 
the eight-course rotation upon its much-divided fields and this 


early enclosure. Elsewhere in the north the comt>lex fields and 
the four-course rotation with which we have become famililElr 
suggest a similar explanation of the relatively early dates which 
characterize the enclosure awards of this region.^ 

Having discovered that by the later eightee^th century many 
Oxfordshire townships of the northwest had discarded the two- 
fidd husbandry once practiced there, we are led to inquire what 
period is responsible for this improvement. Such a query in- 
volves a consideration of seventeenth-century field arrangements. 
Of these we have, fortunately, a Contemporary accoimt which, 
if not a model of styte, is yet instructive. In Robert Plot's 
Natural History of Oxfordshire , published in 1677, ^^^ chapter 
treats of the tillage employed on the various soils of the coxmty. 
Before quoting this, however, it will be helpful to note the 
characteristics and boundaries of the soils themselves. 

Arthur Yoimg's description is best.* According to him, the 
fertile '' redland " of the northern townships near Banbury is 
one of the best soils of the midlands. It extends over the wedge- 
shaped area that protrudes between Warwickshire and North- 
amptonshire, and constitutes about one-sixth of the entire coimty. 
South of it there stretches from the Cot^wolds eastward to 
Buckinghamshire a broad belt of less desirable soil, for the most 
part a limestone and known as '^ stonebrach." Its southern 
boundary runs from Witney to Bicester, and it comprises a third 
of the coimty. South of this again is a belt of miscellaneous 
loams including the valleys of the Thames, the lower Cherwell, 
and the Thame. This constitutes anodier third of the county, 
reaching to the Chiltems on the southeast. The latter, one-sixth 
of the county, have a chalky soil, not ill adapted to certain crops. 

Following these divisions, which he too recognizes. Plot begins 
jiis description with an account of the tillage of clay soils, most 
numerous in the north. It wiU be seen that he has primarily 
in mind a four-course rotation qf crops, precisely t^t described 
by Young one hundred and thirty years later: — 

^^ And first of Clay, Which if kind for Wheat, as most of it is, 
Jiath its first tillage about the beguming of May; or as sooa as 

1 Cf . -Appendtz IV. ^^A^jncuUwe cf Oi^fordsMn, p, 3. 


Barly Season is over, and is called the Fallow^ wUch they som- 
times make by a co^Im; /JttA, i. e. beginning at the out sides of the 
Lands, and laying the Earths from the ridge at the top. After 
this, some short time before the second tilth, which they call 
stirring, which is usually performed about the latter end of June, 
or beginning of July, they give this Land its manure; which if 
Horse-dung or Sheeps-dung, or any oth^ frcnn the Home-stall, 
or from the Mixen in the Field, is brou^t and ^read on the 
Land just before this second plou^iing: But if it he folded (which 
is an excellent manure for this Land, and sddom fails sending a 
Crop accordin^y if the Land be in tillage) they do it either in 
Winter before the fallow, or in Summer after it is fallowed. . . . 

** After it is thus prepared, they sow it with Wheat, which is 
its proper grain . . . and the next year after (it being accounted 
advantageous in all tillage to change the grain) with Beans; and 
then plou^iing in the bean4)rush at All-Saints, the next year with 
Barly . . . ; and then the fourth year it lies fallow, when they 
give it Summer tilth again, and sow it with Winter Com as bef<He. 
But at most places where their Land is cast into three Fields^ 
it lies fallow in course every third year, and is sown but two; the 
first with Wheat, if the Land be good, but if mean with Miscd- 
lan, and the other with Bariy and Pulse promiscuously. And at 
scMne places where it lies out of their UUtnmg, L e. their Land for 
Pulse, they sow it but every second year, and there usually two 
Crops Wheat, and the third Barly, atwasrs being careful to lay 
it iq> by ridging agunst winter; Clay Lands requiring to be kept 
hi^, and to lie warm and dry, still allowing for Wheat and Bar- 
ly three plowings, and somtimes four, but for other grains seldom 
more than cme. ... 

'' As for the Chalk-lands of the ChDtem-hills . . . whoi de- 
signed for Wheat, which is but seldom, they give it the same til- 
lage with Clay, only laying it in four or six furrow'd Lands, and 
soiling it with the best mould . . . and so for common Bariy 
and winter Vetches, with idiich it is much more frequently sown, 
these being foimd the more suitable grains. But if it be of that 
poorest sort they call white-land, nothing is so proper as ray- 
grass mixt with Non-sudi, or Mdilot TrefoiL • . . 


^* If Red-land, whereof there are some quantities in the North 
and West of Qxford-shire, it must have its tillage as socm in the 
year as possibly may be, before the da^. . . . This never re- 
quires a double stirring. . . . Nor is the Sheep-fold amiss 
either Winter or Summer. . . . This Land, like clay, bears 
wheat, miscellan, barly, and peas, in their order very well, and 
Ues fallow every other year, where it falls out of their hitch- 
ing. . . . 

*^ In some parts of the County they have another sort of 
Land they call Stone-brash, consisting of a li^t lean Earth and 
a small Rubble-stone, or else of that and sour ground mixt to- 
gether. . . . These Lands will also bear Wheat and Miscellan 
indifferently well in a kind year, but not so well as clay, sour- 
ground, or red-land; but they bear a fine round barly and thin 
skin'd, especially if they be kept in heart: They lie every other 
year fallow (as other Lands) except where they fall among the 
Peas quarter, and there after Peas they are sown with Barly, and 
He but once in four years. . . . 

'^ There is a sort of tillage they somtimes use on these Lands 
in the spring time, which they call streak-fallowing; the manner 
is, to plough (me furrow and leave one, so that the Land is but 
half of it plou^ed, each plou^ed furrow lying on that which 
is not so: when it is stirred it is then dean plou^ed, and laid 
so smooth, that it will come at sowing time to be as plain as 
before. . . . 

** Lastly, their sandy and gravelly li^t ground, has also much 
the same tillage for wheat and barly, as clay, etc., only they 
require many times but two ploughings. ... Its most agree- 
able grains are, white, red, and mixt Lammas wheats, and miscd- 
lan, L e. wheat and rye together, and then after a years fallow, 
common or rathe-ripe barly: so that it generally lies still every 
other year, it being imfit for hitching, i. e. Beans and Peas, thou^ 
they somtimes sow it with winter Vetches." ^ 

This accoimt makes it dear that in 1677 a four-course, a three- 
course, and a two-course rotation of crops were in use in different 
townships of Oxfordshire. The relation between the four-course 

^ Robert Plot, Naktral History oJOxfordskUre (Oxford, 1677), pp. 33^244. 


and two-course rotations also beonnes aiq>arent: the old two- 
field fownships had isubdivided thdr fields and had b^;un to sow 
one-half the former. fallow field with pulse, i. e., with peas, beans, 
or vetches. This procedure came to be known as '^ hitching " 
the field. A township which remained in two fields practiced 
little or no '' hitching/' and even in four-field townshq)s certain 
poorer lands sometimes '' fell without the hitching," i. e., were 
not sown in the pulse year. The particular rotation (incheat, 
beans, barley, fallow), alwa3rs recoimted by Young, is thus ex- 
plained. It was the natural outcome of sowing one-half of thie 
fallow field of a two-field township. 

Thus prepared by Plot's account, we may turn to such descrip- 
tions of seventeenth-century fields in Oxfordshire as are available. 
Happily, there exists for this county, as for many others, a series 
of glebe terriers, a single parish often fumidiing two or three 
such documents.^ The dates range from 1601 to 1685, with 
occasionally a terrier for the sixteenth century and many froni 
the early eighteenth. Most frequentiy they are dated about 
1634 or 1685. Since some parishes do not appear and many 
terriers are not easy to interpret, no complete classification for 
the county can be attempted. Yet even an incomplete series 
shows in a general way the field usages most in favor in Stuart 

In fourteen parishes, the glebe is said to have consbted of 
crofts.' Six of these lay in the Chiltem region, and sevei^al of the 
others were riverside or residential townships. Many terriers, 
however, picture the original two or three open fields. 

Seventeen townships retained the two-field system, the field 
names being lot the most part such primitive ones as East and 

1 The Oxfordshire terriers have been gathered into one volume, now in the 
Bodldan (Oxfordshire Archdeaconry Pi4)ers, i). A seoond volume contains the 
Berkshire series. Terriers for other counties are usually to be found in the archives 
of the diocese within which the county lay. 

* In Appendix II, under " Oxfordshire," the description of the g^ebe as it lay 
in two-, three-, or four-fidd townships is summarized. 

* Bix, Cavosham, Haipsdeji, Ibston, Rotherfield Greys, Rotherfidd Peppard 
(all in the Chiltems); Begbrook, Bletchingdon, Broughton (near Baobury, the 
glebe being enclosed c, 1700), Goddington, LiUingston LoveQ, Minster LoveU, 
Pirton, Ov^ Worton. 


West, North and South. All were in the north and west of the 
county. In them the abandonment of two-field agriculture 
seems to have occurred between the period of the terriers and 
that of the awards, since only Kencott is known to have retained 
its two fields imtil 1767. Three were enclosed without act of 
parliament, we know not how.^ For several the parliamentary 
awards give no field detail, most of them being of early date.* 
In three instances, however, we discover from the awards that the 
old two fields of the terriers had disintegrated before enclosure. 
At Asthall'the plan of 1814 bears the names of many small fields, 
six at least; at Duns Tew in 1794 there were six quarters; at 
Tackley the references in 1773 are to furlongs and quarters only. 
Had the awards which contain no field detail been as specific as 
these three, they would probably have disclosed a similar situa- 
tion, and have made it quite dear that the definite abandonment 
of the primitive agriculture by even the least enterprising of two- 
field townships occurred between the middle of the seventeenth 
century and the middle of the eighteenth. 

Several glebe terriers, of course, picture the continuance of the 
three-field system, the point of interest here being the location of 
the townships. All are near Oxford, mainly to the east, but 
partiy to the west near the Thames, the region which we have 
already seen characterized by three fields in the nineteenth cen- 
tury. It was not there that agricultural advance was to be 

For evidence of such progress we turn to eight of the terriers 
dated about 1680.' In them the division of the arable into four 
quarters, later to become so frequent, is already apparent, and 
they illustrate the four-field arrangements which Plot, writing in 
1677, had in mind. All are from the northern part of the county.^ 
Certain other terriers for townships of the northwest have not 
this neat quadripartite division of the glebe, but in them also 

> Ardley, Broughton Poggs, Glympton. The enclosure of Middleton Stony has 
been explained from the glebe terriers themselves (see p. 117). 

' Alkerton (1777), Alvescot (1797), Steeple Aston (1767), Brize Norton (1776), 
Cottisford (1854), West Shutford (1766), Westwell (1778). 

* Cf. Appendix 11, pp. 493-494. 

* The case of Kingham has already been dted and illustrated (above, p. 126). 


acres are i^portioned in such manner as to indicate that a two- 
or three-field arrangement was no longer satisfactory.^ Where 
there are four quarters or fields, the names of these are curious 
and local, obviously of recent origin. At Somerton in 1634 pre- 
cise designations had not yet been adc^ted, it being necessary 
to call the fields second, third, fourth, and to locate them with 
reference to highways; * but at least it is dear that four-field 
arrangements were known to Qxfordshite early in the seventeaith 

This fact, taken with the testimcmy of the preceding chapter, 
seems to warrant the generalization that a four-field system, mak- 
ing its i^pearance in the English midlands during the sixteenth 
century and the early seventeenth, was employed more and 
more in the course of the latter century and in the early eight- 
eenth. This transformation marks the second important stage in 
the development oi (^>en-field husbandry in the midlands. The 
first occurred when, in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, 
three fields were substituted for two in many r^ons, among 
others in eastern Oxfordshire. Elsewhere, as in northwestern 
Oxfordshire, no change then took place, the primitive two-field 
system remaining intact These two-fiekl r^ons, however, were 
those which, in this second period of devekq>ment, ceased to be 
dormant' No longer did they allow one-half of the arable to 
lie fallow each year, but they reduced the fraction to one-fo\irth. 
Not content with this, they sometimes went farther, introducing 
an elaborate rotation of ox^ and a complicated field s)rstem 
in natural approach to the still more scientific prindides em- 

1 Steq^ Barton 1685, Charibury 1635 (d. the enclosure ol 1715, above, p. 117), 
Chorcfaill 1733, Corowell 1614, Heyford ad Pontem 1679, Kkflington 1634, Swer- 
ford 1614, Wood Eaton 1685. 

> So eariy as i6aa there is evidence in the indenture that records the partition o£ 
the open fidds of Bletchingdon (Cf. above, p. 118) ol lour small quarters beside a 
much larger West field. 

* Other two-field regions undowcnt the same transldnnation as northwestern 
Oxfordshire. The surveys ol Welford, Gloucestershire, and Owston, Lincolnshire, 
have already been described to illustrate four-field townships. Similarly in four 
fidds at the time of their enclosure were, for example. East Hanney, Berkshire (C. P. 
Recov. Ro., 49 Geo* IH, Hil.), Massingham, Lincolnshire (ibid., 45 Geo. m, Mich.), 
Green's Norton, Northamptonshire (ibid., 47 Geo. m, THn.). 


bodied in the practice of convertible husbandry upon enclosed 

• To the adc^tion of these principles they speedily came as soon 
as parliamentary enclosure offered facilities. For among other 
things which the Oxfordshire evidence has illustrated is the cir- 
cumstance that townships which had four or more fields were 
the most prompt to get enclosure awards passed. By the end 
of the eighteenth century there was little open field left in the 
northwestern part of the county. Not so, however, with the 
region southeast of Oxford. In this stronghold of three fields 
enclosure was long delayed. Whether throughout midland Eng- 
land in general the three-fidd system acted similarly as a pro- 
tective shell for the preservation of open-field arable cannot be 
determined without further investigation.^ 

Our study of Oxfordshire, which may end here, should have 
served to illtistrate variotis aq>ects of the decay of the two- and 
three-field system. As to those townships oi the county whose en- 
closure antedated parliamentary activity, a perception that most 
of them were situated in forest areas or along streams, or were 
desirable as residential estates, will perhaps serve to eiqdain con- 
siderable early enclosing activity. Further, the achievement of 
this step by volimtary agreement has been instanced in order to 
indicate the l^al methods first employed. In the case of 
townsUps enclosed by act of parliament, the awards have 
enabled \is to discover what fraction of the coimty still re- 
mained open arable field up to the time when this finally dis- 
iqypeared. The awards, too, assisted by glebe terriers, have 
disclosed what transformaticms the two- and three-field system 
had imdergone since the days of its earlier simplicity. Only in 
one part of the county, it appears, and that the section given over 

^ To judge from the dates of the acts for enclosure, certain of the old two-field 
counties — Lincolnshire, Gloucestershire, Warwickshire — were prompt to avail 
tbemsdvcs of the new facilities, while ancient three-field counties, like Bedford- 
shire, Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, long remained indifferent. But there 
are enough apparent exceptions to make one hesitate to generalize. Hampshire, 
Leioesterdiise, Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire, all three-field counties, indined early 
to parliamentary endoture, while Berkshire, once two-field, showed no haste. Cf . 
Slater, EngHsk Peasantry, Appendix. 


to three-field husbandry, had there been no change since the 
fourteenth century; and that part, as it happens, was the (me 
least inclined to undertake enclosure. Elsewhere in the old two- 
field territory a four-field S3rstem, or one still more advanced, had 
arisen as a testimony to the best efforts of open-field husbandry 
to achieve efficient agricultural method. 

For those midland and southern coimties in which the two- 
and three-field system once prevailed there is abundant evidence 
of its long-continued existence,^ and the enclosure history of these 
coimties did not in general differ greatly fnMn that of Oxfordshire. 
In certain western counties, however, where there were pretty 
dearly two or three fields at an eariy time, similar long life was 
not granted. In the preceding chapter it was pointed out at 
length that marked irregularities in field arrangements had al- 
ready iq^)eared there in the dxteenth century, and that enclosure 
was frequently in progress. It remains to inquire how much open 
field remained to be enclosed by act of parliament. 

The r^on in question comprised the forest area which ex- 
tended over the northern parts of Warwickshire, Worcestershire, 
Staffordshire, and Derbyshire. It reached westward and south- 
ward to include the fertile valleys of the Wye and Severn, 
passing thence into the low-lying stretches of Somerset. Through- 
out large parts of the eight counties within this region there was a 
tendency from the dxteenth century onward to increase the area 
under pasture. The relatively small extent of the arable left to 
be affected by parliamentary activity can be roughly gauged 
from Slater^s list of acts and areas.* • In the valley of the Severn 
and in the plain of Somerset several townships procured awards, 
but the amount of arable enclosed by each award was seldom 
great. Elsewhere the acts were less numerous. As Slater 
records them, there were twenty-nine for Herefordshire,' seven 

^ Slater, Emgfisk PeasMtry, Appoidiz. 

* IbkL They are assigned to Gkmcestenhtre, Hcre f ot ds hire, Shiopdiire, and 
the counties mentioned above. 

* En^k F§asatUry, Appendix. His Hercfofdshire list indudes at least three 
acts that should have been omitted. The Wigmore petition of 1773 distinctly 
states that it Is concerned with 600 acres of ** common wood," not with 600 acres 
of common arable, as Slater has it. The award for Bredwardine (with Dorston), 


for Shropshire, and for the northwestern parts of Warwickshire, 
Worcestershire, Staffordshire, and Derbyshire, eleven, six,^ five, 
and five respectively. Since Herefordshire furnishes as many 
awards as any part of this reg;ion, unless it be Somerset, and since 
it Hes well to the west, its open-field history may be relied upon to 
illustrate conditions and changes within the territory above 

The contrast with Oxfordshire, whose field transformations 
we have been following, is marked. Though Herefordshire is 
the larger coimty of the two (537,363 vs. 483,614 acres), and not 
inferior id, the extent of its fertile fields, its parliamentary en- 
closures of arable were not more than 31 in contrast with Oxford- 
shire's 158. The awards recording them which are preserved 
and accessible correspond with sixteen of the acts listed by 
Slater,* and add five that he does not mention. There are, how- 
ever, ten petitions and acts which mention common fields but 
for which the subsequent awards are missing.' In no instance do 
these petitions or acts give areas, and how much confidence should 
be put in the mention of common fields in a routine formula, 
espedaUy when the specification of the common wastes precedes^ 
is imcertain.^ The Bredwardine petition, for example, mentions 

makes it dear that no arable was in question. At Byford the award allotted only 
a common, although it provided for the exchange of certain stri{>s of arable. On 
the other hand, the list omits five townships for which we have awards concerned 
with the allotment of arable, vi2«, Wellington, Humber and Stoke Prior, Holmer, 
Pembridge, and Madley. 

^ Kidderminster, Wolverley, Overbury, Ombersley, Alvechurch, Yardley. 

* Most of them are at the Shire Hall, Hereford, and I am indebted to J. R. 
Symonds, Esq., clerk of the peace, for permission to examine them. Of the thirty- 
four there preserved, fourteen relate to conmions only. The Marden award, most 
important of all, is kept at the village of that name, but there is a copy at the 
Public Record Office. 

' Perfa^M some of them are, like the Marden award, to be found in the parishes 
to which they refer. The townships or parishes with which they are concerned 
a^ Bodenham, Shobden, Bishopston and Mansdl Lacy, Ste^leton, AUesmore, 
Eardisland, Clehonger, Stretton Grandison, Norton Canon, and Puttenham. 

* These petitions usually recite " certain Conmions, Wastes, Conunon Fidds 
and Commonable and Open Lands " {Journal of the House of Commons ^ 31 January, 
x8ii, Eardisland). When arable is prominent the phrase runs, ** several Open 
Fidds, Meadows, and Pastures " (petition for the endosuie of Tarrington, ibid., 
9 February, 1796). 








1779 .Winforton 



• • • 

• • • 

1797 'Much Marde 

c. 622} * 

• • • 


1797 jWeBington 




1799 iTmmngton 




1803/ jLantwrnnfinc 

1 BurriogtOD, Astoo, Elton, Mjiriow* 


* • • 


r YifMI 


Stoke Edith 
jWestoo Bcggmid 


• • • 


• • • 

1806 Castk Frome 


• • • 



1813 'Kmsston 


• • • 

• • • 

• • • 

1816 ;Moffdifocd 

• • • 



1816 iLedbmy 


I 132* 

• •• 

• • • 


1816 'Estoor 


• • • 

• • • 


181 7 -AjmicstiT 


« • • 

• • • 

• • . 

r Mankn, SuttoQ St. Midttd 
1819^ Suttoo St. NicfaoUs» WithingtOD, 


• • • 



I Ambcrley, PrestoD Wynn 

1826 Modi Cowvne 


• • • 


i8j9 Lingcn 


• • • 


1854 Bosbuiy 

8i| : 



'*«; Stoke Prior 




51 1 

1855 .Hoimer 




1856 Ulliiigiwick, 

390) 1 

488 , 


1862 Penibffidge* 

73l , 


1862 -Pipe and Lyde 

13* < 

16 1 


1863 .IfjKlkjr 

3«ii 1 



»S65i . 




of the vaste laoi acrat, lay a 
■ YafkaaMluSi 

of Upper 


" common fields/' but the award shows that only certain '' hills " 
and ** heaths " were in question. Although some of the ten miss- 
ing awards were probably not dissimilar, it will be safe to^assiune 
that at least a small amoimt of arable was allotted by them. 
The results of an examination of all the available Herefordshire 
awards that relate to arable are tabulated in the schedule on the 
preceding page. 

The open-field arable and meadow in Herefordshire which the 
existing awards show to have been enclosed by act 6i parliament 
amounted to 10,104) acres. For the ten missing awards per- 
haps some 3000 acres more should be added, but at most not 
more than 2) per cent of the total area of the county was affected. 
All this is in marked contrast with the late eighteenth-century 
situation in Oxfordshire. There the open fields of a dozen town- 
shq>s would have equalled in area all the open-field land in Here- 
fordshire.^ There 37 per cent instead of 2) per cent of the area 
of the entire county was still unenclosed arable. 

The foregoing list also makes it dear that the open arable 
fields in any township were not extensive. Those of the Marden 
award, which seem largest, belonged to several hamlets, and the 
second large area, that assigned to Yarkhill, was apportioned 
among at least four townships. In no other place were more than 
650 acres re-allotted, while 200 to 300 acres was a usual amount, 
which in turn often had to be divided among the constituent 
townships of a parish. The Aymestrey award of 181 7 appor- 
tions its open field, already small, among four such townships, and 
compares these areas with the far more extensive old enclosures. 
In both respects it is typical of Herefordshire conditions: — 

open and Com- 

T n mon Fields and Old 

Township Waste Lands Bnclosuies 

Acres Acres 

Shiriey 13J 252 

Upper Ley 93 375! 

Nether Ley 181J 7i8i 

Covenhope i4i 676 

302} 2022 

1 J. Clark, who in 1794 published a General View of the Affrkvlktre of the Comity 
ofHenford, wy^ parenthetically (Appendix, p. i), *' since a great part of the county 


Where nineteenth-century open fields thus constituted so small 
a fraction of the total improved land of a township we should 
like to know about their appearance. Such information mi^t 
assist in determining whether they had originally been limited 
in extent, or whether they had in course of time decreased in 
area and, if so, in what manner. The aspect of the fields may, 
in short, explain why they were so diminutive when enclosed. In 
this way it may become clear why Herefordshire had only one- 
fifteenth as much open field for the parliamentary endoser as 
had Oxfordshire. 

The enclosure plans of Oxfordshire townships usually reveal 
the open fields as large compact blocks of arable lying near the 
village and often surroimding it. The plan of Chalgrove, which 
has been reproduced, is in no way exceptional. Often, as there, 
two or three enclosed farms lay in remote parts of the township. 
Sometimes enclosures had severed the open fields into two or 
three parts, but the parts at least remained large compact blcicks. 
This state of things is precisely what is seldom to be foimd in the 
Herefordshire plans. The three-field townships which were once 
existent in the coimty, and which must have had fields that were 
more or less compact, had clearly survived in not more than 
iour or five places.* 

One of these survivals was at Sutton, where 700 acres were 
allotted by the Marden award of 1819. The three fields, bear- 
ing the becomingly simple names of Upper, Middle, and Lower, 
would have graced any Oxfordshire township. They lay just 
to the east of the village, were nearly equal in size, and, except 
for a strip of old enclosiure between two of them and a patch of 
the same in the third, formed a compact arable area. This 
plan is one of the few bits of evidence looking toward the long- 
continued existence of a three-field system in the county. 

still remains in this state," i. e., common field. The vagueness and the incidental 
character of the remark render it imworthy of much attention, espedally ance the 
report in general is unsatisfactory. 

^ Yet the rotation in 1794 was a three<x>urse one, according to the mpotttx to 
the Board of Agriculture: " In all the coounon fields and in that district called 
Wheatland the loUdon is (i) fallow, (2) wheat, (3) beans " (Clark, General View, 
etc., p. x8). 


Another apparent survival of three fields, only a little less con- 
vincing than the one at Sutton, was to be seen at UUingswick 
as late as 1856, when 290 acres distributed in 488 parcels were 
enclosed. The land lay at a little distance from the village, sur- 
rounding it on three sides in three rather large compact areas 
called Wood field, Broomhill field, and Bebbury field. Between 
each two was a tongue of enclosures, and all three fields show 
jagged edges where closes had eaten in. Still, on the surface 
at least this is a recognizable survival of a three-field township. 

A parliamentary enclosure which, for Herefordshire, was both 
large and early occurred at Wellington in 1797. We learn the 
names and areas of the common fields in which the 611 acres of 
arable lay, but no plan tells us of their shape or location. Con- 
jecture may none the less be based on the schedule, which runs 
as follows: — 

Acres Acres 

Qrrington field 77 North field 87^ 

West field 168 Hope field 140! 

Hither Adzor field 57I Mill furrows 5 

Farther Adzor field 26^ Moor Croft 7I 

Thatchley Lands field ... 41 

The important fields here were West, North, and Hope (simple 
names) while the other fields, Orrington, Adzor, and Thatchley 
Lands, could easily have adapted themselves to a tripartite 
arrangement. Nor does the Tarrington schedule of 1799 
forbid a three-field grouping. Its 378 acres of arable lay, except 
for five small patches, in seven areas. To be sure, only three of 
the latter, and these not the largest, are called fields; yet, if 
'' Radlow " be accounted a field and two of the so-called fields 
be combined, a grouping into three equal areas becomes possible.^ 
Only one other enclosure schedule hints at three ancient fields, 
and that rather vaguely. In the Kingston award of 181 2, 197 
acres are allotted, of which 1 16 lay in Brooke field, 64 in Chrise 
field, and 17 in Kipperley field. The last two areas were adjacent, 
but were somewhat separated from Brooke field. The three were 
situated relative to the village much as three fields woidd have 

' ^ Radlow 113 acres, Lower Field 93, Church Hill 36, Long Croft 17, East Ftdd 
55, Biickle Field 2$, WHlsill 22, five small parcek 17. 



been, but Kipperley field was so shrunken that we cannot base 
any argument upon the Kingston situation. Since the parlia- 
mentary plans and schedules of only these five townships suggest 
the survival of three compact, open, arable fields in Hereford- 
shire, we may now give attention to a marked change which most 
of such records portray. 

It will be remembered that one of the townships in which three 
fields were seemingly intact in the sixteenth century was Risbury, 

Sketch of the Enolofure Map of the 
BUbnry DiTision of Stoke Prior, Herefordshire. 1866. 



Maitaa Fltld 

Mat vm 

a member of Stoke Prior. Fortunately, the enclosure award of 
Stoke Prior is accompanied by two carefully-drawn plans that 
locate the arable area which is to be enclosed, indicating the 
open-field strips and giving the names of the fields. These plans 
are far more representative of the condition of Herefordshire 
common fields at the end of the eighteenth century than are the 
accounts of the more compact three-field areas already noticed. 
One of them rdates to fields lying in the parish of Hiunber, the 
other to fields in the Risbury division of Stoke Prior. The Hiun- 


ber fidds were connected with the two hamlets of Priddleton and 
Puddlestone. Priddleton field, so called, was an isolated patch 
containing some ten acres in seven parcels; the Puddlestone part- 
eels were periiaps four times as numerotis and lay largely in 
Sparrow Hill field, thou{^ a Fair Mile field is mentioned.^ 

More comprehensive is the plan of the Risbury division. As 
the preceding sketch shows, the strips there were scattered 
throughout three rather extensive fields called Mear, Mustine, 
and Anna, while at one edge they ran into Philtor field.* They 
numbered about one hundred, and their area was about 150 acres. 
The aspect of the important fields (the three called in the Jaco- 
bean survey Meer, Mustine, and Inn field') as they reappear here 
illustrates what had been happening in the interim of two and 
a half centuries. From the plan, which looks more like the terrier 
of a single estate than the representation of township fields, the 
one thing obvious is that enclosure had been eating into the old 
conmionable areas on all sides. Much enclosing had taken place 
in the middle of the fields, until of the trio there remained only 
skeletons to which the old names coidd be appended. Any three- 
course tillage must long since have disappeared, and the isolated 
strips must have become a source of annoyance to their propri- 
etors, who niunbered a dozen or more. 

So important was this process of piecemeal enclosure in bring- 
ing about the decline of Herefordshire open fields that another 
illustration may be permissible, especially as it also exemplifies 
an aq)ect of the fidd. sy stcan of the county which first became 
dear in our examination of Jacobean surveys — the multiplidty 
of the fields.^ A plan of the common fidds of Holmer, sketched 
in the accompanying put, pictures them as lying in two groups, 
one to the northeast^ the other to the southwest, of the village.* 
To the northeastern group were attached nine names, — Hill field, 
Patch Hill fidd, Munstone field, the Butts, Stoney furlong, 

> The total alreft of this group of strips was 58 acres. 
< The ^kai is at the Shire BuXi, HeiefonL 
» Cf. above, p. 37. 

* See abov^ pp. 93-94. 

* The plan itf at the Shire Hall, Hereford. 



Churdiway fidd, Hopymrd Piece, Ten Acres, 4uk1 Pinacres, — - 
while the southwestern group comprised West field, Lower West 
field, Rotherway field, Moor field. Crow Hm, Bobble StodL, and 
Sickman's field. Quite apart from the odd pieces, sudi as Bobble 
Stock, these subdivisions were numerous for an area of 297 acres. 
Four areas in cme group and five in the other are distinctly called 
fields, the average size of a fidd being thus not more than 25 or 

Skttdi of the ^idootn Ml 



BT. BereCofdikira. 1 







\^^\3Jkfa»«'t rw4 




^^\^^j: Ouiwi Moor 

Mat DC 

30 acres. Enclosure had, to be sure, wasted them, as at Risbury; 
but they can never have been very large. Either early fields 
had been much subdivided, or the system was irregular, as it so 
often showed itself in Jacobean surveys. 

In many of the Herefordshire awards a multiplicity of fields, 
like that shown in the Holmer plan, is a striking feature. At 
Marden, a parish of many hamlets, some 1000 acres were en- 
closed in 1819. These lay in forty-six fields and patches, several 
of them being small plocks or crofts. Most of the fields contained 
from three to forty acres each, though in dght instances the 

Sketoh of the Enclosure Map of the 
Pariah of Harden, Hereford^lre. 1819. 

Map X 



acreage rose above 40 and once reached 125.^ These fields, but 
not the strips of which they were composed, are located on a plan 
which is here sketched, and were, it becomes evident, distributed 
like id^mds throughout the entire area of the parish. At an earlier 
day they probably had some logical grouping relative to the half- 
dozen hamlets of which the parish was composed, but this is no 
longer discernible. Indeed, it will be remembered that the Jaco- 
bean survey showed tenants acquiring acres from the fields of 
the various hamlets.' By 1819 enclosure had broken the edges 
of the fields, separating them more and more from one another 
and sometimes, as in the case of South field, nearly obliterating 
them. When one considers that this is the parish which in all 
Herefordshire retained the largest area of open field at the time 
of its enclosure, one readily surmises that multiplicity of fields 
and piecemeal enclosing were signs of decay from which the 
staimchest townships in the coimty had seldom been exempt. 

To multiply illustrations of niunerous fields is easy. The 564 
acres enclosed at Much Cowame lay in some thirteen fields, apart 



1 Little Horn Fidd 5 

South Field Croft 5 

South Field loj 

Hawthorn Hill Field 13} 

The Twenty Acres 13 

Portland Head 11 

Butchers Plock 4 

Upper Vauld Field 25 

Apothecary's Croft 5} 

Ashgrove Field 88 

Pale Croft 9 

Meggs Comer 4 

Venn Fidd 7 

Venn Fidd Croft 7 

Lower Vauld Fidd la} 

Oreathome Pasture 3 

Chestem Fidd 3 

Sinacre Fidd 38 

Bush Fidd 32 

Lingens Hock i 

Burling Fidd 5a 

Lower Brierly Hill Fidd ... 10 

Carry Lane Croft si 

' Cf . above, pp. 95-96. 

HiU Fidd Crofts 4 

Hill Fidd 35 

Upper Brierly 'HUl 13 

Roads Orchard 3^ 

Kineton Fidd lo) 

Little Fidd 7 

Ninewells Fidd 3 

Venns Green Pasture 2 

HolbachFidd 50 

NashhiUFidd 49 

Overways Fidd 102 

Hare Furlong 4 

Little Fidd near Paradise 2} 

OdditchFidd 63J 

Holbach Plock 2 

Little Wdl Fidd 16 

Great WaU Fidd 47J 

Lower Wall Fidd 39J 

GottWaUFidd 33 

Mill Croft Fidd 5 

School WaU Fidd 11 

Newfoundland Field 7 

Lake Fidd ,. 125 


from many smaller areas.^ At Madley the field names applied 
to 381 acres nimibered thirty, while at Much Marcle as many as 
forty were required to locate 622 acres. The Yarkhill award, 
which, to be sure, makes allotments in other townships as well as 
in Yarkhill, avails itself of thirty-eight such names. Instances 
like these show how typical are the descriptions of Holmer and 
Marden. They make it clem: that throughout the county the 
open fields of the era of parliamentary enclosure were for the 
most part small, numerous, more or less isolated, and consider- 
ably eaten into by piecemeal enclosures. 

The relatively small amount of arable enclosed in Herefordshire 
by act of parliament necessitates one of two explanations regard- 
ing the earlier history of open common fields there: either they 
were never extensive, or the majority of them disappeared with- 
out special act. In choosing between these alternatives one 
should remember that parliamentary activity in the county 
began late. The first extant award relative to open arable field 
dates from 1797, and none of the ten missing awards were earlier. 
By that year parliamentary enclosure in Oxf cnxlshire had run half 
its course. In view of the fragmentary condition of the Hereford- 
shire fields when they first appear in the plans and schedules, it 
is scarcely credible that no enclosing had been going on through- 
out the preceding fifty years. Since appeal to parliament seems 
not to have become the vogue until 1797, the natural explanation 
is that would-be enclosers were getting on very well without it 
The simple method of enclosure by agreement, one may surmise, 
was known and practiced. 

For such a conjecture we have further justification. In 1779 
parliamentary sanction was sought for the abolition of common 
rights over 379 acres of enclosed lands at Winforton.^ The 
ownership of these closes resided in the lord of the manor, but 
thirteen other persons were seized of the rights in question. The 
meadows were ** commonable at midsummer yearly," certain pas- 
tures at Lammas day, and several arable ^elds " when rid or 

1 Great field, Wheatland fidd, Elms field, Quany field, Walnut Tree fidd, Clayplt 
field, Twenty Acres, Birky fidd, Batdi field, Henaoe, Stream fidd, Psalters fidd, 
Perry field. 

* The award is at the Shire Hall, Hereford. 


cleared of their respective crops of grain and hay." Since these 
rights were estimated by the award as equivalent to one-fourth 
of the yearly value of the 379 acres, the claimants were allotted 
about one-fourth of this area. Obviously we are here dealing 
with common arable and meadow lands which had been enclosed 
at some time before 1779 without the extinction of common rights. 
Agreement there doubtless had been between the lord and the 
tenants, but no separation of interests. 

One other parliamentary act relative to a Herefordshire town- 
ship, said to be the earliest of its kind,^ provides for the enclosure 
of lands at Marden in 1608.' The reason assigned to justify its 
passage is that there may be '' better provision of meadow and 
pasture, for necessary maintenance of husbandry and tillage " — 
the same reason which many sixteenth-century surveys from 
Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, and Somerset might have ad- 
vanced to explain the considerable departures from normal open- 
field tillage which they manifest. This act recognizes and 
legalizes what was apparently a usual procedure in this region. 

These two parliamentary sanctions given to enclosure by pri- 
vate agreement in Herefordshire, standing as they do a c^itury 
apart, are significant, since they suggest that the process of which 
many traces can be seen in the later plans had been of long dura- 
tion. The process was one of piecemeal enclosure by private 
agreement, and it remains to inquire whether much open-field 
arable disappeared before it On this point some light is thrown 
by the condition, in the time of Henry VHI, of certain hamlets 
formeriy in the possession of Wigmore monastery. For each of 
them there is a brief survey telling the nimiber of tenants and the 
areas of their holdings. Nearly always the holdings were largely 
in open field, the situation, briefly stated, being as follows: * — 

> Leonard, " Inclosure of Common Fields,'' p. 108. Miss Leonard states that 
the act enabled the commoners to enclose a third of their lands. 

< " An Act for the better Provision of Meadow and Pasture, for necessary Main- 
tenance of Husbandly and Tillage, in the Manors, Lordships, and Parishes of Mar- 
den, alias Mawarden, Bodenham, Wellington, Sutton St. Michadl, Sutton St. 
Nicholas, Murton upon Lugg, and the Parish of Pipe, and every of them, in the 
county of Hereford " (Journal of the House of Lords, 12 May, 5 Jas. I). 

' Land Rev., M. B. 183, ff. 2-24. The account of the demesnes, which were 
sddom large, is not transcribed. 


Knflofri Arable Acres in Uie ComnMn Conmon 

Tovraahip Mcanaccs Acres Fields Meadow 

Marlow 4 7) 60, 60, 60, 27 

Whitton 6 S| 60, 46, 21, 40^ 60, 38 30) acres 

Raflinghope . 8 13) 30, 10, 22, 14, 24, 22, 10, 36 45 ** dayesmath " 

« (6 i4i ( 8 acres 

Lctton j ^ ^^j 30^ 53, 59, 21, 25, 30 | aj • 

Adforton.... \^ ^\ 18, 24, 7 J; 18, 40, 12, 6, 35, 16 ( 28 acres 

Yatton 3 6i 26, 40, 30 4 " dayesmath " 

Lye 4 38J 60, 30 30, 2} 

In all these townships the open-field arable was far more exten- 
sive than the enclosures, but, considerable as it was in Tudor days, 
relatively little of it remained to be enclosed by act of parliament. 
Only three of the townships appear in the awards.^ Of these, 
Marlow and Whitton are in the parish of Leintwardine, the award 
for which was drawn up in 1803. In it reference is made to Mar- 
low, where a large common of 392 acres is allotted, but only five 
acres of common field (in Little Marlow field). To the township 
of Leintwardine itself is assigned common field amoimting to 197 
acres. Since the hamlet of Whitton is not more than a mile 
distant from the village of Leintwardine, a part of the area en- 
closed probably came from the fields of Whitton; yet such part 
can have been no very large fraction of the 265 acres which were 
open arable field there in Tudor days. The third township of 
the list which appears in the awards is Lye, where in 1817 an 
area of 274 acres was enclosed. How much of this was arable is 
not made clear in the award, nor can it be determined what ratio 
the four monastic holdings, q>ecified above, bore to the entire 
township; but, even if it be assimied that they remained un- 
enclosed, the total open-field arable and meadow affected by act 
of parliament in the seven townships of the foregoing list did 
not exceed 300 acres. Since in Tudor days they had contained 
upwards of 1200 acres, the area enclosed without parliamentary 
intervention was about 75 per cent of the total. 

This fraction may not, of course, be applicable to the coimty 
as a whole. On the other hand, there is no reason for assuming 

1 Ratlinghope is in Shropshire, but there is no record of its enclosure in the 
acts or in the enclosure awards at Shrewsbury. 


that the hilly, forested, northwester^ comer m which were situ- 
ated the townships above noted had relatively more qpen field in 
Tudor times than had the amiable plains roimd Hereford. Since 
the Leintwardine and Lye awards are in thdr areas entirely 
representative of parliamentary enclosures in Herefordshire, the 
fraction which seems to reflect conditions in the northwest may 
not after all be inapplicable to the entire coimty. At least it 
becomes probable that a very considerable amoimt of arable open 
field, once existent, disappeared without leaving record of itself 
in parliamentary act or award; and one can scarcely avoid 
the iiiference that private agreement and piecemeal enclosure 
were operative in this process. 

At what period between the days of Henry VHI and those of 
George IQ the decay of the old fields was most rapid is not easily 
ascertainable. It cannot have been before the beginning of the 
seventeenth century, since the Jacobean surveys show no marked 
encroachments upon the arable. Surveys later than these are not 
to be had, though glebe terriers might throw Ught upon the sub- 
ject, as they have upon similar matters in Oxfordshire.^ Until 
information from them or from some other source is forthcoming, 
the decades during which the old field system fell most rapidly 
into decrepitude must remain in doubt. 

Why piecemeal enclosing was so much more prevalent in Here- 
fordshire than in Oxfordshire can only be conjectured. In general 
during the sixteenth century the western coimties appear to have 
been much more inclined to pasture farming than were the mid- 
lands. To judge from the respective values assigned to arable, 
meadow, and pasture in the contemporary surveys, this preference 
implies progress. An acre of pasture was usually worth at least 
half as much again as an acre of arable, and an acre of meadow 
was easily worth twice as much.' Conversion of the arable, 
therefore, meant an increase in values and income. The fact that 

^ I lutve not been able to rxamine tbe glebe terriers for Herefordshire, and do not 
know to what extent they are available. 

* Acooiding to a survey of i Edward VI, the open-field arable at Hortoo, 
Gloucestershire, was worth from 6d, to 12 J. the acre, the endosed pasture from 
is.6d, to 3 X., and the meadow from 31. to 5 x. (Rents, and Survs., Portf. 2/46, 
ff. 92-104). 


this advantage, patent in all the surveys, was realized only in the 
west suggests that conversion may tor some reason have been 
easier there than in the midlands. 

Thus we are brought back to the conditions described in the 
preceding chiq>ter. There were disclosed, especially in the forest 
areas and the river vallejrs of western England, deviations from 
the two- and three-field system. Most noticeable of these were 
such irregularities in field arrangements as made it uncertain 
whether either a two-course or a three-course rotation of crops 
was still practiced. If neither was in force, there can have been 
little reason for maintaining the integrity of the arable fields — 
unless, indeed, a four-course system was adopted, as happened 
on the lower Avon. In general in the river valleys, including 
those of Herefordshire, and near the moors of Somerset, irregular 
fields, themselves often indicative of progress, must easily have 
yielded to endosiu-e. At Frampton Cotterell in Gloucestershire 
they had done so completely before the days of James I. 

One other feature of Herefordshire fields must have been favor- 
able to innovations. This was their relatively small size. As 
has been noticed, a Herefordshire parish usually consisted of 
several hamlets,^ each with its group of fields in which seldom so 
many as ten tenants had holdings of any size. Frequently the 
tenants numbered less than a half-dozen. Obviously the situa- 
tion in a township of this nature was very different from that 
existing in a township of Oxfordshire, where there were nearly 
always more than ten tenants and sometimes as many as 
thirty. From so large a group consent for enclosure could be 
got only with difiiculty, whereas by the half-dozen Herefordshire 
tenants it might readily be conceded. If this conjecture be 
justifiable, the form of settlement which prevailed in the western 
counties had its influ^ice upon the open-field history of the 

^ The parish of Marden is a good illiistration. Reference to the modem map 
shows six constituent hamlets or townships, — Marden, Wisteston, Vem, Venn, 
Vaukl, and Fromanton. The name of the last hamlet is supplied from the Jaco- 
bean survey, a document which tells us that the manor of Marden comprised also 
the township of Sutton with its hamlet Freen (cf. above, p 95, n. 4). 


At this point it will be necessary to conclude our study of the 
two- and three-field system. This method of tillage has been 
followed from Anglo-Saxon days to the latter part of the nine- 
teenth century. The area throughout which it prevailed has 
been defined as the northern and southern midlands — the terri- 
tory from Durham to the Channel and from the Welsh marches 
to the fens. In its primitive Anglo-Saxon form the system seems 
to have been one of two fields. As soon, to be sure, Ieks we get 
full evidence from the beginning of the thirteenth century, three- 
field townships are apparent. The discovery, however, that two- 
field arrangements sometimes gave place to three-field ones has 
encouraged the belief that such transformation was perhaps 
responsible for the existence of the three-field system. The 
period to be credited with this first step in agricultural advance 
is the thirteenth century and the early fourteenth. From that 
time on, all the more fertile townships of the midlands, especially 
of the northern and western portions, were in three fields. 

So they remained, it seems, for about two centuries. When 
the curtain next rises upon midland fields as they appear in the 
surveys of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, another 
transformation has begun. Although most townships still re- 
main in two or three fields, more complex arrangements appear 
here and there, especially in forest areas and in river vallejrs. 
Sometimes strips of meadow have substituted themselves for 
strips of arable in the otherwise normal fields. Sometimes the 
division of tenants' acres among fields is incomprehensible, even 
though the fields are few. Sometimes the fields have become 
niunerous and admit of no grouping which adjusts them to the 
traditional system. Sometimes much piecemeal enclosure has 
taken place and the open-field arable is visibly in a state of 
decay. Very often, finally, a new regular system, one of 
four fields, has replaced the two-field arrangement, and so has 
brought into annual tillage an additional quarter of the town- 
ship's arable. 

These changes, it is obvious, were evidences at once of the decay 
of the old system and of an advance in agricultiiral technique. 
To study them at closer range we have given attention to the 


enclosure history of Oxfordshire and Herefordshire. The latter 
county has shown itself particularly notable for the extent to 
which piecemeal enclosure went quietly on within its borders, a 
procedure which seems to have been facilitated by its numerous 
and small fields. In Oxfordshire it was different. More than 
one-half of the coimty, to be sure, became enclosed before 
1750, but the causes of this seem to have been the fertility and 
residential desirability of certain townships. In other townships 
a greater or less amoimt of open arable field survived, the total 
constituting more t^han one-third of the coimty's area. This sur- 
viving open-field arable had in part undergone certain changes, 
particularly the substitution of iour fields for two; and the 
extent of such transformation in Oxfordshire, indeed, suggests 
that it constituted the most important step in systematic agricult- 
ural advance made by the midland system since the fourteenth 
century. In conjimction with certain refinements upon itself, it 
was the last endeavor of open-field husbandry to till the soil in the 
most remimerative manner possible. In this attempt it failed, 
being imable to equal the advantages offered by enclosure and 
convertible husbandry. 

Thereupon set in an epoch of parliamentary enclosure which, 
continuing from the middle of the eighteenth century for rather 
more than a himdred years, left England a coimtry substantially 
devoid of open arable fields. The progress of this late enclosure 
in Oxfordshire and Herefordshire has been followed in order to 
make dear what material is available for an extended study of the 
subject, and to emphasize the distinction between those coim- 
ties in which the two- and three-field system was firmly en- 
trenched and those in which it yielded easily to formal or informal 
enclosure. The first group comprised the coimties of the eastern, 
central, and southern midlands; the second included coimties or 
parts of coimties lying to the north and west in a belt of territory 
which stretched from Durham to Somerset. In the latter group 
piecemeal enclosure went on more rapidly thanit did in the former, 
a dromostance that constitutes the most striking differentiation 
within the entire two- and three-field area. Next to it in sug- 
gestiveness is perhaps the readiness manifested by four-field and 


eight-field townships to avail themselves of the opportunity to 
enclose thdr open fields by act of parliament. Behind all the 
differences, however, which in course of time manifested them- 
selves within the two- and three-field area was the miity of origin 
and character that marked off the midlands from the other parts 
of England which are now to be considered. 


The Celtic System 

Before examining the field arrangements of the north and the 
west of England, we shall do well to glance across the border to 
see what method of cultivation was employed by peoples of 
Celtic descent. Phenomena otherwise perplexing may thereby 
become intelligible. 

Of the three Celtic divisions of the British Isles, Scotland fur- 
nishes perhaps the most specific information as to how the soil 
was tilled in the eighteenth century. Among the Scottish re- 
porters to the Board of Agriculture in 1794 were two or three men 
whose habits of thought led them to go beyond the formal answer 
to the queries propounded and write scholarly accounts of the 
situation, past and present. If to their descriptions be added 
the briefer notes of the other reporters, the composite picture 
leaves little that is vague about the later history of the Celtic 
s)rstem in Scotland. In particular it makes clear the nature of 
runrig, the relation of which to the three-field system of England 
has never been well set forth.* 

A striking feature of Scottish agriculture before 1794, and one 
upon which the reports are practically imanimous, is that most 
of the arable, as well as the meadow and pasture, lay imenclosed. 
Near gentlemen's seats only were enclosiires to be seen. While 
the reporters wrote, the process of enclosing was making headway, 
especially in the southeast; and often matters had got to a point 
where a ring fence had been built about the farm, although no 

^ Slater has a chapter on the subject, and quotes at length Alexander Carmi- 
chael's description dl the Hebrides (English Peasaniry, ch. zv). He has not 
utilized the best information contained in the reports to the Board of Agriculture, 
nor is his contrast of runrig with English common fidds adequate (cf . below, pp. 
171-172). Seebohm had apparently not read the reports. 



subdivisions had been made. A half-century earlier nearly all 
of Scotland, they say, lay open.* 

As a ludd description of the tillage of an qpen-field Scottish 
farm, James Anderson's account, written with reference to Aber- 
deenshire, cannot be excelled: ' — 

" Throughout the whole district," he writes, " the general 
practice that has prevailed for time immemorial is to divide 
the arable lands of each farm into two parts at least, Infield 
and Outfield. The in-field, as the name inq>lies, is that por- 
tion of ground which is nearest to the farmstead; and usually 
consists of about one-fifth part of the whole arable groimd in 
the farm. This is kept in perpetual tillage; and the invariable 
system of management was, and still is, with few exceptions, to 
have it divided into three equal parts to be cropped thus: First, 

> Cf. the foUowing reports, each entitled Central View rf ike AgriatUme of the 
CatuUy [in questioii]: — 

Aberdeen, p. 40, " But if by commoos be understood unindoaed fields p. e., not 
heath or waste] . . . then the greatest part of the county might be accounted 
such **; p. 59, " The M com lands near Aberdeen . . . [are] for the most part 
open and unindosed." 

Southern Perth, p. 60: " Three-fifths at least of the whole arable land is 
open . . . and on some farms no fence is made except a ring fence around the 

Argyll and West Inverness, p. 26: ** There is but Uttk of it [the country] indoaed, 
and that which b only by feal d)^es; . . . the tenants, from want of sufficient 
indosures, cannot protect turnip and sown grass and thereby have been discour- 
aged ... to raise these articles." 

Anmmdaie (co. Dumfries), i^ip. iv, p. zxiii: *' There was scarce an inclosed fidd 
thirty years ago in Annandale, unless on the mains or manour place of a gentleman, 
and they were not at all frequent. There was no sudi thing at a mudi later period 
as a divided or inclosed farm, with any sort of fence, occupied by a farmer." 

Dumbarton, p. 19: " Till about thirty or forty years ago, none of the country was 
indooed, except a few fidds adjoining to gentlemen's seats . . . [but] indosing 
has been daily going on. One>third of the county, however, is yet open, or but 
roundly indoscd; that is, the farms are indosed, but not subdivided." 

Berwick, p. 45: " Almost the whole or two-thirds, at least, <^ the lands of the 
lower district, are now indooed, and a considerate part of the arable lands of the 
higher district." 

Orkney Isles, p. 252: " The land is almost wholly in open fidds." 

Uidlotkiat^ p. 34: " Even so late as thirty years ago, there was hardly a farm 
indosed in the idiole county." 

* General View of ike Agriadture of ike County of Aberdeen (Edinbur^ i794)» 


Bear [barley], with all the dung made by the beasts housed on 
the farm laid upon it. Second and third, oats: then bear again; 
and so on in the same unvarying rotation. [For bear, the earth 
was turned over upon the stubble in the winter, a process called 
** tibbing." At the end of April, after harrowing, the dung was 
spread, the soil lightly ploughed, and the crop sown.] For oats 
the groimd is ploughed as soon after the grain is cut down as 
possible; often some parts of the ridges are ploughed the day the 
com is cut down. ... It is impossible to form an idea of the 
foulness of the crop. ... It is by no means uncommon to 
see one-half the ridge (usually that side which lies to the east or 
north) cut up for green food that year it is in bear, no grain being 
to be seen among it. . . . 

" That part of the farm called out-field is divided into two 
unequal portions. The smallest, usually about one-third part, 
is called folds, provindally folds; the other larger portion is de- 
nominated /ai^^A^. The fold ground usually consists of ten divi- 
sions, one of which each year is brought into tillage from grass. 
With this intent it is surroimded with a wall of sod the last year 
it is to remain in grass, which forms a temporary inclosure that 
is employed as a penn for confining the cattle during the night 
time and for two or three hours each day at noon. It thus gets 
a tolerably full dunging, after which it is plowed up for oats 
during the winter. In the same manner it is plowed successively 
for oals for four or five years, or as long as it will carry any crop 
worth reaping. It is then abandoned for five or six years, during 
which time it gets by degrees a sward of poor grass, when it is 
again subjected to the same rotation. 

" The faugks never receive manure of any sort; and they are 
cropped in exactly the same manner as the folds, with this differ- 
ence, that instead of being folded upon, they are broke up from 
grass by what they call a rib-plowing about midsunmier; one 
part of the sward being turned by the plow upon the surface of 
an equal portion that is not raised, so as to be covered by the 
furrow. This operation on grass land is called faughing, from 
whence the division of the farm takes its name. It is allowed to 
lie in this state until autunm, when it is plowed all over . . . 


and is sown with oats in the ^mng. It pioduoes a poor cn^ 
and three or four succeeding crops still poorer and poorer; till at 
last they are forced to abandon it by the plouj^ after it will 
scarcely return the seed. It is deplorable to think that . . . 
such a barbarous system . . . should have been, from local 
circumstances, continued for several centuries." 

From every part of Scotland come similar accounts of the 
division between infield and outfield. The variations in detail 
are slight, having reference largely to the rotaticm of crops and 
to the proportions existing between the various sorts of land. 
No other report makes a distinction between folds and faughs, 
the entire outfield being usually described as Anderson describes 
the folds. In East Lothian the outfield was divided into five, six, 
or seven brakes (instead of ten folds and ten fau^is), the nimiber 
depending upon the quality of the soil.^ In Ayrshire '' no dung 
was ever spread upon any part of it. The starved cattle kq>t 
on the farm were suffered to poach the fields from the end of 
Harvest till the ensuing seedtime." ' Contrasted with the out- 
field was the infield, which in Dumbarton comprised about one- 
fourth of the farm.' Sometimes the rotati<Hi of crops upcm the 
infield extended over four years instead of three. In Ayrshire a 
year of ley intervened between the crop of barley and the two 
crops of oats.^ In the Carse of Gowrie and in East Lothian 
(me-fourth of the infield " was dunged for pease [and] . . . the 
second crop was wheat, the third barley, the fourth oats." In 
southern Perthshire, along with the usual rotation, a cnq) of peas 
or beans might be introduced between the oats and the barley, or 
barley and oats might alternate in two-course rotation.* The 
reporter for Annandale explains what part of a farm the system 
brought imder annual cultivation. The quantity of infield land, 
he says, '' was proportioned to the nimaber of cattle wintered and 
housed on the farm. An acre of land might be dunged for each 
five or six cattle. ... A farm that could fold five acres of 
Outfield land [from which three crops of oats were then taken], and 

> East Lotkian, p. 48. ' DmmbarUm, p. 44. 

* Ayr, p. 9. * Ayr, p. 9. 

* SctOiuru Perth, p.2a. The mtioductioo of the peas or beans wis deemed ao 
I mp ro v ement. 


could manure as many of Infield [from which one crop of barley 
and two crops of oats were then taken], had m all [each year] 
twenty-five acres of oats and five acres of bear." * 

In the Highlands the poorer soil introduced slight modifica- 
tions. William Marshall's description is in substance as follows.^ 
The valleys were separated from the hills by a stone fence called 
the '^ head dyke/' or by an imaginary line or partition answering 
to it and running along the brae or slope. Within the head dyke 
lay the more productive or greener surface, the black heathy 
brows of the hills being left out as '' muir." The muir was an 
addition to the farm peculiar to the Highlands, since the portion 
within the head dyke comprised what was elsewhere called infield 
and outfield. The description of these divisions runs much as 
usual. Some patches, however, which were " too wet, too 
woody, or too stoney to be plowed, are," Marshall notes, " termed 
meadow and are kept perpetually imder the scythe and sickle 
for a scanty supply of hay, being every year shorn to the quick 
and seldom, if ever, manured." Other patches constituted per- 
manent pasture. '' The faces of the braes, the roots of the hills, 
the woody or rough stoney wastes of the bottom; with a small 
plot near the house, termed ' door land ' (for baiting horses upon 
at meal times, teddering a cow, etc.) are kept as pasture for cattle 
in summer and sheep in winter, the sheep and generally the 
horses being kept during summer above the head dyke upon the 
muir lands." In estimating the average amoimt of each kind of 
land on a farm on the sides of Loch Tay, Marshall brings to light 
the principal differ^ice between the Highland farms and the more 
level ones, whether of the north or of the south. The farms of 
Loch Tay, he states, '' contain on a par about twenty acres of 
infield, fifteen acres of outfield [both tilled as elsewhere], ten acres 
of meadow, thirty-five acres of green pasture, with about ten 
acres of woody waste — in all, about ninety acres within the head 
dyke, and about two hundred and fifty acres of muir or hill 
lands." The infield and outfield which were more or less avail- 
able for tillage thus constituted only a small fraction of the total 

^ AnnandaU (co. Dumfries), ^p. iv, p. zxii. 
* Central Highlands of ScaUandf pp. 29 sq. 


area of the farm, instead of all of it, as elsewhere, ^art from 
the extensive but not very valuable stretches of permanent muir, 
pastiire, and meadow, a Highland farm was like any other in 

Up to this point in the description Scottish agriculture shows 
slight resemblance to the two- and three-field system of the Eng- 
lish midlands. The arable fields were, to be sure, open, and the 
best of them, the infield, was subject to a three-course rotation; 
but the three courses involved continuous cropping and knew 
nothing of the fallow year. With the outfield, the larger part of 
a Scottish farm, there was nothing in a midland township to 
correspond, and its alternation of five years of tillage with five 
years of recovery was far removed from midland methods. We 
come now, however, to a characteristic of Scottish agriculture 
which seems to ally it with the common fields of England. This 
feature is runrig, or rundale, the subdivision of a holding into 
strips or ridges intermixed with those of other holdings. 

The existence of ridges has already come to light in Anderson's 
accoimt, where he refers to the unproductiveness of the northern 
halves of the ridges of infield during the year in barley. Ridges 
may, of course, comport with ahnost any field system in which 
there is no cross-ploughing. They are a device for drainage, and 
were commended by the reporters when they were straight, not 
too high, and so arranged as to drain the furrows properly. In 
Scotland, as it happened, they had got out of hand, and, accord- 
ing to the reporter for East Lothian, the following shape of the 
ridge was imiversal: '' Anciently almost every ridge in this coun- 
try was from i8 to 22 feet broad and sometimes more; they had 
curves at each end, somewhat in the form of the letter S; and 
these ridges were always twice, and upon strong lands generally 
three times, gathered from the level of the ground." * This re- 
port is confirmed and explained by another from Midlothian: 
^' It was formerly the imiversal practice to form the land into 
high and broad ridges, commonly from 36 to 48 feet wide and 
elevated at least three feet higher in the middle than in the fur- 
rows; but this mode, which perhaps was consistent enough with 

1 East LaUtian, p. 51. 


the heavy, cumberous six-horse ploughs then employed, is now 
disused since the introduction of the two-horse plough, which 
has of late been general in this county/' ^ 

The long ridges were called riggs or dales, the short ones buiis. 
The riggs contained from one-fourth to one-half of an acre each, 
the butts less. As in the midland system, headlands were to be 
found, and the acres were gathered into '^ shots/' All these fea- 
tures were apparent in 1599, as the following enumeration of six 
acres, part of a husbandland at £)anouth, Berwickshire, shows : — 
'' One acre containing three rigs lying in that shot called the 
Schuilbraidis, sometimes occupied by Patrick Huldie, malt- 
other three acres, sometime occupied by John Johnstone, mer- 
chant, of which one is in Over Bairfute, called the Heidland 
acre, half an acre containing three butts adjacent in the 
Over Welstdl, half an acre containing two rigs and a rig- 
end in the Blackcroft, and the other acre containing two 
daills in the Hilawbank 
another acre containing two daills and a rig lying on the west 
side of the said Hilawbank, sometime occupied by Robert 
Gotthra . . . 
and the other acre, containing three rigs of land, lying in Nather 

Bairfute." « 
The transition from ridges to runrig is made for us in Sir John 
Sinclair's disdainful account of Caithness. '^ In order to prevent 
any of the soil being carried to the adjoining ridge," he writes, 
'^ each individual makes his own ridge as high as possible, and 
renders the furrow quite bare, so that it produces no crop, while 
the accumulated soil in the middle of the ridge is never stirred 
deeper than the plough." Here at length is intermixed owner- 
ship or occupation; and Sir John leaves the matter in no doubt. 
" The greater part of the arable land in this Coimty," he con- 
tinues, " is occupied by small farmers, who possess it in run-rig 
or in rig and rennal, as it is here termed, similar to the common 
£elds of England, a system peculiarly hostile to improvement. 

1 MidhMm, p. 55. 

' Hist. MSS. Commission, MSS. of Col. D. M. HonU (1902), p. 214. 


Were there twenty tenants and as many fields, each tenant would 
think himself imjustly treated, unless he had a proportionate 
share in each." ^ Of the Orkneys, too, he writes, " Much land 
that formerly lay in the state known in Scotland \mder the name 
of run-rig land has been divided, but much still remains in the 
same situation ... a source of constant dispute." * At the 
other end of Scotland, in Berwickshire, runrig was at least a 
memory. The reporter notes that " the common fields, runrig, 
and rundale lands in the coimty were all divided previous to any 
attempt to improve them by inclosing." ' 

Certain passing remarks of other reporters indicate more exactly 
the nature of the intermixed property, and at the same time point 
to its prevalence throughout Scotland. Most illuminating of all 
is the report from southern Perthshire by James Robertson, D.D. 
" The husbandry of the particular district under consideration," 
says he, '' was in a most wretched condition, even so late as 
fifty years ago. The land was always occupied in run-rigg by 
the different tenants on the same farm and sometimes by coter- 
minous heritors. The houses were in dusters for the mutual 
protection of the inhabitants, and the farms were universally 
divided into out-field and in-field except in the neighborhood 
of the larger towns." ^ The intermixed strips of the several 
tenants, we now perceive, were those of a single farm, and the 
method of tillage called nmrig had the farm as its unit. Robert- 
son's further comment makes the matter dearer. Discussing 
production and population, he uses this illustration: '' No man 
will venture to say, that a farm of fifty acres in the hands of four 
tenants, who have each a horse in the plough, and their ground 
mixed in run-rig, will produce the quantity of subsistence, which 
the same farm can do in the hands of one man, who has both 
money and industry to cultivate the groimd. With respect to 

^ Northern Counties and Islands^ p. 207. 
' Ibid., 227. 

• Berwick, p. 50. 

* Sonihem Perth {l^^),p, 22. la iht ^ecoik^ ttditxaa {General Viem <4 the A^ 
culture in the County of Perth, 1799), the author adds that there were dusters 
of farms " even to the number in some cases of six or ei^t ploughs of land in 
one hamlet'' 


population, where is the difference, whether the other three far- 
mers Uve on the farm or in an adjoining village ? " ^ Elsewhere, 
writing of runrig as an obstacle to improvement, he continues: 
" But in our times nothing can be more absurd, than to see two 
or three, or perhaps four men, yoking their horses together in one 
plough and having their ridges alternately in the same field, with 
a bank of imploughed land between them by way of boimdary. 
These diminutive possessions were carried to such a length, that 
in some parts of Scotland, beyond this coimty, the term a horse^s 
foot of land is not wholly laid aside.' The land is like a piece of 
striped doth with banks full of weeds and ridges of com in con- 
stant succession from one end of a field to the other. Under 
such management, all these people must have concurred in one 
opinion with regard to the time and manner of ploughing every 
field, the kind of grain to be sown, and the season and weather 
fit for sowing, and whether they and their horses were to be em- 
ployed or idle. Even so late as thirty or forty years ago, this 
practice prevailed, not only over the greater part of the county 
of Perth, but with very few exceptions over all Scotland. Since 
that period it has been gradually going into desuetude . . . 
and must soon disappear, except where the landlord is as much 
of a Goth as his tenants." ' 

In verification of the important fact that runrig applied to the 
arable strips of the tenants of a single farm, who were seldom 
more than six in number, we have the explicit statement of two 
other reporters. Fullarton writes of Ayr: '' The arable farms 
were generally small, because the tenants had not stock for larger 
occupations. A plough-gate of land, or as much as could employ 
four horses, allowing half of it to be ploughed, was a common 
sized farm. It was oft^i runridge or mixed property; and two 
or three farmers usually lived in the same place, and had their 
different distributions of the farm in various proportions, from 
ID to 40, 60, or 100 acres." ^ Again, from Annandale, in the west, 
comes the comment: ** It may have been from the same ideas of 

1 SouUtem Perth, (i794)» P* 65. 

' According to the author's note, this was ** the sixteenth part of a plough-gate." 

» Ibid. (X799)» 39«- * ^3^> P- 9- 


common danger, and to call attention to the general safety, that 
so much of the com lands lay in nm-rigg or in run-<lale property; 
and that almost every farm was run-dale in the corn-lands, and 
common in the pastures among four, six, eight or sometimes more 
tenants." ^ Lastly, the reporter from Dumbarton notes, " In 
some places the old system ... is yet retained, [and] a mixed 
farm of little more than a himdred acres is subdivided, stuck- 
runways^ among five or six tenants." * 

Sometimes, however, the tenants of a farm might come to 
number distinctly more than six or eight Not, to be sure, the 
normal contributors to the plough, as the rhetorical phrase of Sir 
John Sinclair might suggest; ' but the increase was due rather to 
the addition of crofters, or cottagers, so well described by Mar- 
shall in his accoimt of the agriculture of the Highlands. '^ This 
extraordinary class of cultivators appear to have been quartered 
uq[XMi the tenantry after the farms were ^Ut down into their 
smallest size; the crofters being a qpedes of sub-tenants on the 
farms to which they are re^)ectively attached. Besides one or 
two ' cows holdings ' and the pasturage of three or four sheep, 
they have a few acres of infield land (but no outfield or muir), 
which the tenant is obliged to cultivate; and they in return per- 
form to him certain services, as the woriL of harvest and the cast- 
ing of peats, the tenant fetching home the crofter's share. And 
still below these rank the Cotters, answering nearly to the cot- 
tagers of the southern provinces; except that, in the Highlands, 
they are attached, like the crofters, to the tenants or joint-toiants, 
on whose farm they reside; receiving assistance and returning for 
it services." ^ Roberts(m tells of similar holdings of cottagers in 
southern Perthshire: '^Without taking notice of small possessions, 
which are called pemdicUs, because they are small portions of 
the land allotted by the farmer to cottagers, labourers and 
servants, which in some places is still the juractice; the extent 
of what may be called farms, whore one or more ploughs are 
yoked, is from 30 to 400 acres." * Elsewhere he says, '' Many 

> A»mami4th (co. Dumfries), «p|>w iv, p^ 

• See above, p. 164. * Snmlhnu Ptrtk, pw 57. 


instances might be pointed out where all the tenants of several 
ploughs and a number of cottagers are huddled together in one 
hamlet." ' 

The phrases '' tenants of several ploughs " and " where one or 
mare ploughs are yoked " introduce a new complication. Thus 
far we have been told of the farm of one plough, whose tenants, 
besides crofters, were usually three or four, but might be six or 
eight. Their settlement, which was dearly the typical Scottish 
farm, was correspondingly small. If, however, the ploughs of a 
settlement sometimes increased, so too must the population have 
increased, the tenants to a plough remaming constant. For this 
larger aggregate of lands and tenants a special term was some- 
times reserved. It was called, par excellence, a township. Al- 
though Marshall speaks without differentiation of '' the nominal 
farms or petty townships," ' Robertson makes the distinction. 
In outlining the obstacles to improvement he begins with '' town- 
ships," and under this rubric proceeds: '' A number of plough- 
gates [' farms ' in the first edition] in one village or several ten- 
ants about one plough, having their land mixed with one another 
is a great bar to the improvement of any coimtry. [Although 
they have disappeared where cultivation has made progress] in 
some districts they still remain and the blame is to be attributed 
to the landlord. Wherever, a stranger sees four or six or eight 
ploughs of land, possessed perhaps by double that number of 
tenants and perhaps a cottage or two annexed to each plough, all 
huddled together in one village, he instantly judges that the pro- 
prietor is destitute of understanding. . . . However necessary 
these hamlets were for the mutual aid of the inhabitants in rude 
ages and unsettled times ... in the happy days in which we live 
such clusters of houses are no longer necessary." ' Immediately 
after this the author notes as the second obstacle to improvement 
the existence of runrig. " This," he says, '^ is a species of the 
former evil upon a smaller scale,'' and he continues with the 
description, already quoted, of the two or three or four men who 
yoke their horses in one plough team.^ 

* Southern Perth, p. 1x7. • Perth (1799), p. 392. 

* Ceniral BighUmds, p. 5a. * See above, p. 165. 


There were, then, settlements larger than the farm of one 
plough, settlements consisting of six or eight ploughs and of 
twenty or thirty tenants and cottagers. Strictly speaking, these 
were the townships, although the term was doubtless applied to 
the farm. Indeed, there can have been no sharp line of demarca- 
tion between farm and township. It may have been simple 
enough to call a settlement of one plough-gate a farm and one of 
six plough-gates a township; yet which term was to be applied 
to a group of tenants who maintained three or four ploughs ? 
Sharp distinctions must have faded away, till the terms farm and 
township tended to become confused. 

One thing, however, seems clear enough: Scottish units of 
settlement inclined to be small. Usually they comprised not 
more than a half-dozen tenants tilling together less than loo acres 
of land. Such in all strictness was the farm. If the number 
of ploughs multiplied and the tenants, apart from crofters, in- 
creased to a dozen, the arable might expand to 300 or 400, acres. 
In general, however, we shall not be wrong in calling the group 
of tenants' houses a hamlet and the unit of settlement a hamlet- 

All this is in contrast with the method of settlement usual in 
the English midlands. There the townshq> often contained a 
thousand acres or more and the tenants numbered from twenty to 
one himdred.^ The ratio of one to four may not very inaccu- 
rately represent the relaticm between Scottish and English units 
of settlement in point of size. In other words, the fields of the 
smaller Scottish hamlet-farms were perbaps only about one- 
fourth as large as the fields of the smaller English townships, and 
the same was true of the fields of larger townships in both countries. 
It happened, of cotirse, that the largest Scottish township-fields 
were as considerable as the smallest ones of the English mid- 
lands. Furthermore, the ratio did not hold good for all parts of 
England where the midland system prevailed. In Herefordshire, 
for example, the townships frequently had no greater area than 
those of Scotland, and yet a three-field system was employed 
there. None the less, the contrast is for the most part valid and 

1 Cf . the areas of tlie townahips of Ozfofdshixe given in Appendix IV. 


is of importance. Hamlets and small fields were peculiar to 
Scotland, villages and large fields to the English midlands. 

A single feature remains to be added to the picture of a 
Scottish hamlet*farm, one which appears in certain changes 
made by James Robertson in the second edition of his report on 
Perthshire. After repeating that fifty year§ ago all farms were 
occupied in runrig, and after pointing to the inconvenience of the 
intermixed ridges, he continues: '' And to add to the evil, one 
farmer possessed this year what his neighbor did possess the 
former. Not only farms but in some instances estates were 
divided in this manner, especially where a property fell into the 
hands of co-heirs. The first deviation from run-rig was by dividing 
the farm into Kavels or Kenches, by which every field of the same 
quality was split down into as many lots as there were tenants in 
the farm . . . [and] the possessors cast lots (or Kavels in the 
Scottish dialect) for their particular share. (Kench signifies a 
larger portion of land than a ridge.) This was a real improve- 
mait so far as it went; every farmer had his own lot in each 
field, . . . reaping the benefit of his industry, which by the 
run-rig husbandry he could not enjoy, owing to the exchange of 
ridges every year. Kavels still exist in the Stormont, and in 
some other parts of the coimty in a certain degree, and almost 
universaUy in village lands. In the latter they are imavoidable; 
in the former they are regularly exploded, as the old leases fall.'' ^ 
In his description of Inverness-shire Robertson amplifies this 
statement about the annual exchanging of ridges. '^ In some 
parts of the Highlands," he writes, '^ I have seen the land first- 
ploughed without leaving any boundaries excq>t the furrow be- 
twixt the ridges; then the field was divided by putting small 
branches of trees into the groimd to mark off every man's portion 
before the field was sown. No man knew his own land till the 
seed was to be cast into the ground and it became impossible 
for him to have the same portion of land any two successive 
years." * 

We are at length in a position to summarize the principal 
characteristics of the Scottish agricultural system as it appeared 

* Perth (1799), P» 61. • IfnamcsSf p. 535. 


in the eighteenth century, and as it had probably existed for some 
time. The unit of the system was the farm, an area apparently 
comprising from thirty to four hundred acres, but usually less 
than one hundred, and requiring for its cultivation a plou^ of 
four horses, or at times more than one plough. The tenants wore 
in general from two to four, although the number might increase 
to six or eight, apart from cottagers attached to the farm. Ten- 
ants and cottagers lived together in a cluster of houses, and their 
horses were joined to form the plough or plough. The acres 
of the farm were. divided into infield and outfield, the former 
tilled year after year with the assistance of manure, the latter 
ploughed, part by part, for some five years' and then allowed to 
revert to grass for at least as long a period. The arable was 
divided into strips, long, narrow, and sometimes serpentine. The 
strips of a tenant were not contiguous, but were sq>arated (me 
from another by the strips of other tenants, an arrangement 
known as runrig. Sometimes the allotment of strips did not take 
place imtil the groimd was ready for the seed, and in such cases 
a tenant was not likely to receive the same strips in successive 

Nearly everything except the intermixture of the strips of the 
several tenants was different from the English two- and three- 
field system with which we have become familiar. The size of 
the farm as compared with that of the Engh'sh township, the 
niunber of tenants, the infield and the outfield, the method of 
tillage, the annual re-allotm»it of strips — all differed. Slater, 
in getting at the distinctive feature of runrig in contrast with the 
English open common field, concluded that it resided in the last 
of these characteristics — in the annual re-allotment of strips. 
The persistence of such a custom, furthermore, seems to him to 
have facilitated enclosure, since the tenants, when they finally 
dissolved their plough-partnership, must have tended to allot their 
lands with regard to convenience, and must have assigned to each 
of their number, not several scattered strips, but one parcel or at 
least few parcels. No resort to act of parliament or to the creation 
of a commission would thus be necessary to ^ect enclosure.^ 

^ Enijiisk Peasamiry, pp. 174-175. 


There may be some truth in this conjecture as to the conse- 
quences of the long persistence of the annual redistribution of 
strips. Robertson's accoimt of the first steps taken in getting 
rid of runrig shows that such fluidity made easier the beginnings 
of a more convenient arrangem^it.^ Yet in many places the 
custom of annual re-allotment cannot have persisted so long as 
cooperative ploughing and the old intermixture. The other re- 
porters do not speak of it, and Robertson elsewhere is careful to 
limit his statement by saying that " these ridges were in some 
cases frequently exchanged."* What generally gave the first 
impetus toward consolidation was not the practice of annually 
re-allotting strips, but the falling-in of the leases and the action 
of the landlord. Disregarding, however, the effect of annual re- 
distribution upon the beginnings of consolidation, we can scarcely 
look upon the usage as the most distinctive feature of Scottish 
runrig. Had the practice been in vogue under English two- and 
three-field husbandry as we have come to know it, the latter 
would still have been very different from the agriculture of 
Scotland. More characteristic of the latter were the size of the 
farm or township, its occupation by co-tenants or co-heirs, the 
manner in which it was tilled, and the distribution of the tenants' 
acres throughout the arable fields. 

Before considering these features, however, as manifestations 
of a Celtic type of field system, we shall do well to examine such 
information touching them as comes from Wales and Ireland. 
Some of it is earlier and some of it more specific than the Scottish 

When reports from Wales were made to the Board of Agri- 
culture in 1794, no open-field arable lying in common was to be 
foimd in certain counties.' Much waste land in the principality^ 

* Cf. above, p. 169. • Inverness, p. 334. 

' Brecknock, p. 37: *' There are no common fields in this district" Carmarthen, 
p. ai: " I do not know of any considerable extent of open common field land in 
the county." Denbigh, p. 1 1 : ** There are no common arable lands in this county." 

* Brecknock, p. 39: '' One half of the district, containing on the whole 512,000 
acres, is waste lands." Cardigan, p. 39: '' The greater part of the low lands is 
pretty well inclosed; but hilly and exposed situations are mostly open." Carmar- 
theti, p. 20: "About two-thirds of the county is inclosed." Glamorgan, p. 4a: 
" The waste land in this county is considerable; computed to amount to upwards 


ranained unimproved, sometimes not because of its poor quality 
but because of the inertness of the occupiers. The arable and 
pasture were usually described as enclosed.^ 

Against this backgroimd of enclosures and unimproved wastes 
there were to be discerned, however, certain patches of common 
arable field. The reporter from Flintshire wrote: " There are 
no common fields, or fields in run-rig in this coimty, as I am in- 
formed, except between Flint and St Asaph and it is intended 
to divide and inclose them. The difference in rent between open 
and inclosed fields is estimated at one-third. . . . From the 
appearance of the fences in this county, inclosing has been very 
general many years ago.''' Thus in northeastern Wales the 
remnants, at least, of common fields lingered, their value was 
estimated relative to that of enclosed land, and the writer 
thought it probable that existent doses were made within living 
memory. On the western coast another instance was noted by 
the reporters from Cardiganshire: '' The only tract like a com- 
mon field is an extent of very productive barley-land, reaching 
on the coast from Aberairon to Llanrhysted. This quarter is 
much intermixed and chiefly in small holdings." ' The tract in 
question is some ten miles in length. Farther along the coast 
at the southwestern extremity of Wales, is St. David's. Here 
again the reporter for Pembrokeshire noted and e3q>lained the 
existence of common fields: *' In the neighborhood of St David's 

of 120,000 acres; upon which common without stint is exercised by the occupiers 
in the vicinity of such waste land." Camarvan, p. 15 : "A great part of Carnarvon- 
shire is still unendosed." Denbighf p, 11: "There are . . . several commons of 
very considerable extent" Flint, p. 2: '' Althou^ some small portions of the 
waste lands have lately been divided and indosed, yet there are many thousand 
acres still left in their original state, which are capable of being converted into 
arable and pasture lands. And although all the waste lands or commons in North 
Wales are denominated mountains, jret many of them are as level as a bowling 
g r e en; and in this county they are, in general, not more hilly than the arable lands 
nor b the soil inferior in quality, were it well cultivated." 

^ Merumeth, p. 8: " The lands in this county are mostly enclosed, the sheep 
walks excq>ted." Montgomeryshire, p. 9: ** The cultivated parts of this county 
are mostly indosed, and the fences are in general old, consisting of an intermixture 
of hawthorn, hazd, crab, etc, as in Flintshire." 

' George Kay, Flintslnre, p. 4. 

' T. Llo3rd and the Rev. Mr. Turner, Cardigan, p. 29. 


considerable tracts of open field land are still remaining, which 
is chiefly owing to the possessions of the church being inter- 
mixed with private property; and the want of a general law to 
enable the bishop and clergy to divide, exchange and enclose 
their lands." ^ The situation and the explanation of it are re- 
iterated, finally, by the reporter from Glamorgan. '* The land 
in tillage, or appropriated to grazing," he wrote, '' is generally 
inclosed; open or common fields are rarely met with in South 
Wales. It is a mode of occupation practiced there in some few 
instances where ecclesiastical and private property are blended." * 
Such is the sum of the Welsh evidence contained in the reports 
of 1794 relative to common arable fields. Three occurrences of 
such fields are noted, one in the extreme northeast, the others in 
the south and west on or near the coast. For the ph^iomenon in 
south Wales we are told that ecclesiastical properties were answer- 
able; but there is nothing to indicate that such was the case in 
Flintshire, while on the coastal stretch of Cardiganshire the inter- 
mixed properties were chiefly small holdings, apparently not 
ecclesiastical. If, as seems probable, these ecclesiastical prop- 
erties were glebe lands, their scattered parcels suggest that at some 
earlier time all holdings may have been similarly constituted and 
that the glebe parcels were the last to be exchanged. About the 
nature of the open fields we learn little. The Cardigan stretch 
was " very productive barley-land," while the district between 
Flint and St. Asaph was more hilly but not ill adapted to agri- 
culture. In contrast with this small amoimt of common field, 
the central and northwestern parts of Wales are said to have 
been entirely enclosed, so far as improved lands were concerned.' 
To discover whether the eighteenth-century patches were due to 
exceptional causes operative only on the borders of the princi- 
pality, or whether they were survivals of what had once been a 

^ C. Hassal, Pembroke^ p. 20. 

' J. Fox, Glamorgan, p. 41. 

* Of Carnarvonshire, in the northwest, the rqK>rter writes (p. 15), " A great 
part is still unindosed " ; but he does not state whether the unenclosed lands were 
arable or waste. Probably he refers to waste lands, since he continues: *' The old 
fences appear to have been finished in a very imperfect manner. They consist 
chiefly of dry stone walls and earthen banks." 


universal phenomenon, we turn to the surveys of Tudor and 
Jacobean times. 

As it happens, these surveys refer for the most part to the very 
regions which have just been noted as retaining open fields in the 
eighteenth century. They are concerned with large lordships in 
Pembrokeshire in the southwest and Denbighshire in the north- 
east. From other counties of Wales evidence is scanty, save for 
one accq>table survey from Anglesey. The testimony from the 
first two regions, which, to judge from the liberal sprinkling of 
English place-names, wer^ less purely Welsh, may be examined 

The intermixture of the parcels of the holdings in Pembroke- 
shire, described in the eighteenth-century report, is confirmed by 
a note prefixed to the survey of the royal lordship of Haverford- 
west, made in 21 James I. '^ Also whereas the Landes of theise 
Tenements doe lie devided amonge the Tennants in small par- 
cells lyeng intermixedlie wherebie the Tennants cannot make full 
profitt of theire tenements and thereby they are the lesse valu- 
able in the lettinge; It were verie convenient in our opinions for 
his highnes proffitt and for the benefitt of the Tennants that by 
viewe of a June in everie Mannor or by some direction from your 
Lordship the land were viewed and by exchange made entire as 
neere as maie be, or sorted in such partes as the tennantes maie 
enclose and therebie make theire beste proffitt. And wee holde 
it conveynient that for all exchaunges to be made of anie peeces 
of land betwixte the Tennantes for conveyniende, that the same 
be made in writinge and presented at the next Courte to the 
Stewarde to be Recorded, and that Notwithstandinge the ex- 
chaimge the aundent landshares and meares betwixt the peeces 
be preserved." ^ In determining the value of a ploughland the 
surveyors state further that they have had '^ regarde to the 
goodnes of ech mans holdings and whither it laye togethers or 
dispersed." ' No doubt can exist, then, about the intermixture 
of parcels here; and, since there is talk about andent land- 

^ Land Rev., M. B. 206, f. 39. The lordship induded the manors of " Camros, 
St. Issmells, Rock, Pull, and Staynton." 
' Land Rev., M. B. 238, f. 37. 


shares and meres and enclosing, it is evidence that the parcels 
must have been in open field or at least intermixed in large 

The procedure which is recommended above by the surveyors 
was in 1593 well \mder way at Carew or New Shipping, some ten 
miles distant. In the list of demesne lands, for the most part 
closes, we hear of the following: — 

" One acre lying in the closure which lyeth on the north side 
of the myll pond; it lyeth among other lands; it was taken from 
the tenement that nowe John hillen holdeth and added to the 
demains of New Shiiq>inge; this land is errable or pasture 
ground. . . . Item iiii acres lyinge in the foresaid dose, whereof 
iii acres lyeth togeather in one peece and one acre at the end 
thereof, all arrable or pasture groimd . . . ; it [the iiii acres] was 
sometyme belonging to the tenement that now John mert3m 
holdeth. . . . 

'' Parcells of grounde tak^i from tenements in newton and 
added to the demesne of New Shipping: fower acres arable or 
pasture; five of like groimd; three acres of like errable . . . ; 
two acres of like errable . . . ; two acres of like errable . . . ; 
two acres of like errable. . . . Memorandum, all these . . . par- 
cells of grounde are newly enclosed in one closure which close 
lieth on the north side of the said mesuage of newe shippinge. . . . 

'' Lands taken From newton annexed to New shippyng: Item 
three acres situate in the fielde or crofte on the north side of 
Carewe bridge sometimes belonginge to a tenement in Newton 
in the occupation of Henry Saunders consisting of errable or pas- 
ture groimde . . . ; Item two acres in the saide feelde or croft 
taken from the tenement wherein John woodes now dwelleth 
beinge errable or pasture grounde . . . ; two acres in the saide 
croft sometimes belonging to a tenement wherein Richard Bowen 
now dwelleth of like errable or pasture groimde." ^ 

Near by, at Sagestown, certain lands of the queen were thus 
described by the surveyors: — 

'' John Benion occupieth the tenemente and xvii acres parcell 
of the saide xxv acres; and as to viii acres, the residue, iiii of them 

^ Land Rev., M. B. 260, ff. 317, 2196. 


lie togeathers in an open fielde on the easte side of the said town- 
shippe of Sageston havinge the highway that leadeth from Carewe 
to temby on the south side; two other acres lie togeathers in the 
same fielde neare a place called the haies, these vi acres are 
pulled from the f orsaide tenemente and are anexed to a tenemente 
in the occupation of one griffith Froine; one acre and a half lyinge 
togeathers in the said fielde nowe holden by John Gibbe and 
John Thomas; One acre the residue lyeth in a fielde on the 
weste side oi Sagiston neare the church way taken from the said 
tenement and anexed to the demaine lands of the castle. . . . 
Memorandiun. insteade of the vi acres annexed to Froines 
tenemente . . . there is vi other acres taken from the saide 
froines tenement and added to the demaines of the castle they 
lie in the fielde on the west side of Sagiston neare the church way 
beinge errable or pasture. . . . " ^ 

Of these parcels in New Shipping and Sagestown it will be 
noticed that the second group, once open, had been enclosed 
upcm consolidation, that the last group apparently still lay in 
open field, while the first and third groups had lain intermixed in 
fields already enclosed. These two groups show that inter- 
mixture of tenants' parcels in Wales does not necessarily imply 
that the parcels in question were in open field. Strips of more 
than one tenant sometimes lay within the same close. It will 
be noticed further that the intennixed parcels above described as 
newly aidosed were arable or pasture. The situation is one 
which could as well have arisen from the subdivision of a dose of 
arable or pasture among several hdrs as from the enclosure of an 
open field. 

If in any particular Pembrokeshire survey which has come 
down to us we try to discover the niunber and ext^it of the open 
fields or of the doses containing intermixed parcds, we shall find 
only a few of them. In the survey of St Florence, made in 1609, 
much land is described as pasture or enclosed arable, while only 
the following fidd names recur more than twice, with parcels of 
the sixe indicated held in each place by diffemt toiants: * — 

^ Land Rev., M. B. 260, f. 222, 

' Land Rev., M. B. >o6, ff. 227-24^ Tbe areas are in acres. 


Bloody acre, i, i, 2J, i 

in Blackhill fields or at Blackhill, 4}, 8, \, i\, 7, 9^ 

at Burrows, i, i, f 

at Ladyland, and at Langstone " in Ladyland field/' 4, i, i, 

2, i, ij, li, ij 

at MiddlehiU, 5 (in open field), 4}, i, 5^ 

in Cherrieland, \^ \ 

at Honnyland, 4, 4 

in the East field of Flemyngton, 9, 6. 
Flemington is the township to the west, and apparently had its 
East field. Since the other localities have not perpetuated them- 
selves on the ordnance map, they were probably fields rather 
than hamlets. The total area at St. Florence throughout which 
the parcels of the tenants were intermixed appears therefore to 
have been about seventy-five acres. 

A few miles to the north lay the lordship of Narberth, of which 
we have a survey made in 7 James I.^ The lordship comprised, 
besides Narberth, the townships of Templeton and Robeston. At 
Templeton there was no open common arable, all holdings con- 
sisting of '' arable land enclosed '' and '' moimt^ groimd." The 
Narberth holdings were less uniform. For the most part they 
were,' so far as described, either closes or '* arable and pasture at 
Middle hill." Three tenants at least had *' arable not enclosed," 
in amounts of from six to fourteen acres, but no further descrq>- 
tion of these unenclosed acres is vouchsafed. 

Robeston was the township which, of the three, seemed most 
inclined to intermix the parcels of the tenants. Of this we are 
assured by no definite statement, but the assignment of small par- 
cels to the same field division can scarcely be interpreted in any 
other way. Particularly noteworthy is the case of four tenants, 
each of whom had exactly the same series of small parceb in nine 
localities. Four times is repeated the following list of fractional 
acres: } in hill park dose, } in woodways dose, f (or }) in Hookes- 
meade, } in Blind will, } at Utter hoke, \ above the haies, \ at 
Narbert waie, } at Langsjtone, \ at Ljmacre. What had taken 
place was a division, among the four tenants, of plots of land 

1 Land Rev., M. B. 306, ff. 11S-186. 


containing respectively 3, 3, 2, 3, i^, ^, i, i, i, acres, and a ming- 
ling of small parcels had been the result. Such intermixture does 
not imply the existence of open field, since before subdivision 
the areas may have been closes, and in two instances are said to 
have been. Indeed, ''parkes" and doses at Robeston were 
nimierous, a sign that the township was largely enclosed. Some 
further intermixture of the same sort there may have been, 
especially in the foUowing localities, where acre- or fractional 
acre-parcels were in the occupation of different tenants (except 
in case of those connected by +) : — 

Castlecroft, i, i^ (arable), i^ (2 parcels), ^,.|, i, i^ (2 
parcels of arable), \ 

at Two Acres and Little Two Acres, i, i, i, i, i, 2 (3 parcels). 

Stubby land, i, i, \ 

in or at Woostland, \ (arable), j, j, i, J, } (arable) 

Shortlands, 2, 2, | 

upon the Hill (arable), i + i, i, 2^ + ij, i, i\ (2 parcels), 
i+i,», 2i + ii 

in the Vran (arable), 3 (3 parcels), i (2 parcels), i, li, 3 (3 
parcels), i (2 parcels). 
At best, the total area of the tenants' parcels which were inter- 
mixed at Robeston was probably not more than eighty acres. 
This amount differs little from that just estimated for St. Flor- 
ence. Since these two Pembrokeshire townships, of all those 
described in the Jacobean surveys, inclined most to intermixed 
holdings, we may conclude that at the end of the sixteenth 
century the county had its arable largely enclosed. Some inter- 
mixed land was to be found; but at times it lay within closes, 
and in certain instances it pretty clearly arose from the sub- 
division of parcels among a group of tenants. It seems never to 
have predominated in a township, and probably seldom exceeded 
one hundred acres. 

From the Pembrokeshire surveys we may turn to those of Den- 
bighshire in the northeast, especially to some that come from a 
r^on in which the place-names are even less Welsh than those 
of Pembrokeshire. This is a part of the valley of the Dee, ten 


miles above Chester and adjacent to the English county. Wrex- 
ham is the largest town of the district, and its open field, as 
pictured in John Norden's survey of 1620,^ has been briefly de- 
scribed by A. N. Palmer,' who foUows the history of the butts 
and quillets to the present day. Norden's survey, like several 
others antedating it, refers to the lordship of Bromfield and 
Yale, a lordship so extensive as to be subdivided into seventeen 
manors containing 62 townships or hamlets. Excellent and 
detailed as is this description, it is not more so than one of 
some seventy years earlier preserved at the Public Record Office.' 

For the most part both surveys are concerned with townships 
and hamlets entirely enclosed. Such, for example, in Norden's 
survey are Brymbo, Esclusham, Bersham, Moreton Anglicorum, 
all of which are described in full, with specification of closes.^ 
There are, however, three or four townships which in both sur- 
veys show certain traces of open field. These traces are very 
slight at Holt, being confined to three fields, each divided between 
two freeholders, and to a fourth in which six freeholders have 
parcels of arable or pasture.' They are most nimierous at Wrex- 
ham, at Pickhill and Siswick, and at Issacoed, a division in which 
the principal hamlets were Sutton and Dutton. The earlier 
survey is henceforth quoted. 

At Wrexham we find, what is very rare elsewhere, the term 
" common field." John Hower had, besides a messuage, garden, 
and pasture dose of an acre, '' ii acras terre arabiUs iacentes in 
communi campo cbcte ville." David Middleton, along with four 
tenements and eighteen acres of pasture in seven closes, had an- 
other tenement, a dose of pasture, and " xii seliones terre iacentes 
in conmnmibus campis viUarum vaure Wryxham et Waghame 
continentes [with the dose] viii acras terre arabilis et pasture." ' 

^ The survey is printed from Harleian MS. 3696, in Archaeclopa Cambrensis, 
SupfUment ofOripnal Documents (1877), vol. i, pp. czi sq. 

< The Town, Fields, and Folk of Wrexham in the Time of James the First, Wrex- 
ham, etc., [1884]. 

* Land Rev., M. B. 249, the entire 210 folios. The survey as a whole is not 
dated, but the most recent leases and copyholds are c. 39 Henry VIII. 

* Archaeologia Cambrensis, Supplement, etc., vol. i, pp. cdi sq, 

• Land Rev., M. B. 249, ff. 8-22. 

• Ibid., f . 68. 


Usually the " communi " is omitted and '' in campo " occurs 
alone.^ Nine other tenants resembled the two mentioned in 
having a few acres or selions in the fields of Wrexham Vaur.* 
Since closes are sometimes included in the areas given, the total 
amount of open-field arable at Wrexham cannot be exactly deter- 
mined. It comprised about one hundred selions, varying in 
size from -^ to f of an acre, and it can hardly have exceeded 
sixty acres. The amount is not large for the middle of the six- 
teenth century, nor can it, of course, have increased by Norden's 

In the survey of Pickhill and Siswick the term " butts " for 
the most part replaces '' seliones," and each butt contained from 
a quarter-acre to a half-acre.' Of the two holdings which incline 
most to open arable field, one has about one-fourth of its area so 
described, the other about one-half.^ Elsewhere in the survey 

^ For example, " William ap Maddoc et Robert ap David ap Gniff ap Robert " 
held three messuages, three doses containing deven acres, and " ziv sdikmes terre 
iacentes in campo ville predicte [Wrexham Vaur] continentes iii aoas terre '' (Land 
Rev., M. B. 249, £. 72W. 

' Their holdings comprised the selions of the preceding note, together with the 
foUowing eight entries: — 

" ii acras terre in diversis selionibus . . . et unam sellionem 

ii Eruas terre continentes dimidiam acram et unam rodam 

vii seliones terre . . . continentes per estimationem vi acras terre arabilis 

viii seliones terre . . . continentes iv acras terre 

quinque dausas et xii seliones . . . continentes . . . vii acras terre . . . 

et vii seliones [no area] 
cum octo dausis et diversb sellionibus . . . continentibus per estimationem 

XX acras terre 
V selliones [no area] 
xii selliones continentes per estimationem vi acras terre '' (ibid., ff. 65-74). 

• Ibid., ff. 124-130. 

* The two are as follows: — 

" Jenk3m ap Jenn ap David nativus ut didt tenet ibidem unam ceparakm 
dausam pasture vocatam Ibryn Istrowe alias Stonydose continentem per 
estimationem iii acras pasture 

et unam dausam prati continentem ii acras et dimidiam ibidem 

ac unam aliam parcellam terre arabilis vocatam Estymarowe continentem 
per estimationem iiii acras pasture 

Et V butts iacentes in Kay Jenkyng continentes i acram terre 

et iii butts in dole Seswyke continentes i acram 

et iiii butts iacentes in dole Seswyke 

et vi butts iacentes ibidem continentes ii acras et dimidiam terre arabilis 


doses very largely predominate.^ As at Wrexham, the total 
open-field arable did not amount to more than sixty acres, and 
was probably less. 

Et ii pedas terre ceparalis continentes dimidiam acram terre iacentem iuxta 

[et] ii ceparales dausas continentes per estimationem iii acras terre ibidem 
et i acram et dimidiam in qnadam dausa vocata Kay parva." 

" Maddoc ap Roberti ap Uywdyn tenet in pychell imum tenementum et 

viii dausas terre in ceparali continentes xii acras pasture et arabilis 
et i et dimidiam acram prati vocatam gwerlozh ekeyveney 
et imam pedam prati continentem dimidiam acram prati iacentem in prato 

vocato gweme estymavair 
et XV lez butts iacentes in dolebikill [* dolbykelfdd ' is crossed out] 
et zi alias continentes per estimationem iii acras terre 
et ii pedas terre arrabilis iacentes in campo vocato ystymarowe continentes 

i acram terre 
et in le maysegwyn i pedam continentem i acram et dimidiam 
Et in campo vocato Oldymawre i pedam pasture continentem i acram 
Et in campo vocato Frythe iii butts continentes tertiam partem i acre 
Et in campo vocato maysmawre iiii lez butts ibidem continentes i acram et 

Et in campo vocato Skythery unam pedam continentem dimidiam acram 

terre arabilis 
Et in campo vocato Ekeyveney unam pedam continentem dimidiam acram 

terre arabilis 
Et in dauso vocato Ekeyvya unam parvam pedam terre '' Land Rev., 

M. B. 349, £f. 128,1286). 

^ The following are the only other indications of open-fidd arable. Except 
where bracketed together, the parcels are in different holdings: — 
** vii butts in dollgough 

fxiv butts in campo de Keynistneth continentes iii acras 
iv butts continentes i acram 
1XX1V le butts iacentes in dc^e gowgh et urencregog continentes iii acras terre 
i acram inmassewdl 
fsex parcdlas continentes xv butts terre in campis de Pychyll 
unam sellionem terre vocatam heyle 
iii acras terre arabilis iacentes in le butts 
xii butts continentes vi acras terre 
xviii butts continentes iii acras terre 
vi butts iacentes in biyngcregoch continentes dimidiam acram terre et i rodam 
ix butts in le buUowgh aid corft continentes per estimationem ii acras terre 
iii butts in dole gowgh 
xix parcdlas et . . . butts terre arabilis continentes per estimationem iii 

acras terre 
vii lez butts continentes ii acras terre " (ibid., ff. 124-130). 


Longest of all these surveys which reveal open field is that 
of the division of the lordship which is called Issacoed and 
which contained nine hamlets.^ The descriptions are often 
non-committal, but the total, once more, did not exceed fifty 

^ Land Rev., M. B. 249, ff. 147-164. 

* The following list seems to embrace all the open-field parcels, those of the same 
holding being bracketed together: — 

iiii butts in Gillowistayth contlnentes dimidiam acram 
iii acras in le grodyer ac iiii lez butts iacentes in alio Grodyer 
i acram in dolblythy 

V butts in quadam dausa vocata doUevellen 
ii pede terre iacentes in Caystabell continentes i acram 
ii butts in cargrose continentes i rodam terre 
xi butts in le grodyer continentes i acram et dimidiam 
ii butts in alio grodyer 
ii butts in berthyer continentes dimidiam rodam 

. viii butts in Errowe continentes i acram terre 
vii butts in le mersshegwyn 

zi butts in djrttonbrayne continentes per estimationem ii acras terre 
ix acras terre arabilis iacentes ibidem [in Ditton] in diversis parcellis 
dimidiam lez butts iacentem [in] panthulog continentem i acram 
ii lez butts continentes dimidiam acram terre in Sutton 
in diversis parvis pedb terre iacentes in dole Sutton drca iii acras terre 
1 acram in le grodyer 
quinque diversas parcellas terre iacentes in conmiunibus campis [of Sutton] 

continentes per estimationem iii acras terre 
iii butts vocatas tyre y Rauboth continentes dimidiam acram terre 
ii parcellas terre in dole Sutton continentes i acram terre 
i acram et i rodam per estimationem in Kayrkewle 
vii butts [in] iii parcellis in le goidra continentes ii acras 
i acram et dimidiam prati iacentem ibidem 
i rodam prati iacentem in doll vha 

V butts in doll utha et i rodam et i butt in doll utha 
i parcdlam in dollissa continentem dimidiam acram terre 

vi butts et unam parvam dausam . . . continentem i acram et dimidiam 

ii butts in Kaystabell continentes i rodam terre 

i butt iacentem in Kaystabellissa continentem i rodam 
vii butts in Kayglase continentes ii acras terre 
iiii butts in drowestole ussa 
iiii butts in grodyer dyt.tpn 
vii butts iacentes infra Gillough isstathdogg . . . 

ii dausas pasture et (:ertis terris [sic] in communi campo de Sutton conti- 
nentes X acras terre iacentes in Sutton 

i acram terre [in].duot>us parcellis in coinmunibus campis ibidem [Horsdey]. 


To the survivals of common fields in the lordship of Bromfield 
should be added slight traces fouAd in the survey of the adjacent 
manor of Ruthin.^ Although this is much concerned with mes- 
suages and with small holdings which are nearly always enclosed, 
common fields are mentioned two or three times.^ In a holding 
at Llammirock there was appurtenant to a house and garden 
" terra arabilis in communibus campis vocatis tir y cech," the 
tenant paying a total rent of 6 J. In Ruthin itself there was held 
by lease a messuage, three closes containing eleven acres, and 

'' terra arabilis in communi campo vocato Pantmigan continens 
per estimationem xii acras 
terra arabilis in predicto campo continens per estimatio- 
nem ii acras.*^ 
In a survey so long as this one such common fields are almost 

Thus far only surveys from the English parts of Wales have 
been examined. Nearly all hamlets in which intermixed parcels 
have been found bear English names, and even in these the 
amount of common arable was surprisingly small. One might 
surmise that in purely Welsh surroundings no common fields 
whatever were known. So far as our evidence goes, however, 
the situation seems not to have diiSered from that already de- 
scribed. A certain amount of intermixed ownership is visible in 
places where it can scarcely be attributed to English influence. 

Best of the Jacobean surveys of Welsh regions are those from 
Anglesey. Frequently these descriptions speak only of non- 
committal "parcels," but occasionally we discover that the 
parcels which constituted a holding lay scattered. Such was 
the case with certain of the lands of John Lewys, armiger, at 
Cliviock, which are described as follows: — 

'' ii parcelle terre arabilis sparsim iacentes in quodam campo 
vocato Dryll y Castell . . . continentes ii acras v rodas 

ii parceUe terre arabilis sparsim iacentes in quodam campo 
vocato Glodissa . . . continentes iiii acras . . . 

una parcella terre arabilis iacens in quodam campo vocato dol 
Gledog continens iii acras et dimidiam 

> Land Rev., M. B. 339, ff. 1 35-181. * Ibid., ff. 167, 175. 


terra arabilis iacens in campo vocato Brjm y gwyddal contineas 
•••• •• ■ 

mi acras. * 

In the rather long account of the lands held by lessees in the 
manors Hendre, Rosfaire, and Mardreff , in the Anglesey commot 
of Menai,* one may find holdings which comprised, for example: — 

'' Domum mansionalem . . . cmn parvo crofto . . . et 
Sex parvas clausas continentes per estimationem ix acras 
Sex alias parcellas terre arabilis iacentes in gallt Beder conti- 
nentes per estimationem i acram 
Tres alias parceUas terre arabilis iacentes in carreg y gwydd 

continentes per estimationem i acram i rodam 
Unam aliam parcellam terre arabilis ibidem iacentem iuxta 
viam ad Carnarvon continentem i rodam." * 

The holdings in general inclined, much as did this one, to have 
parcels in three or four localities, called kesu tnawr, kesu bychan 
gaJU bedr, and carreg y gurydd. It is not clear whether the first 
two were hamlets or fields; but carreg y gwydd is once called a 
" campus," * and five times acres are said to lie " sparsim " in 
gallt bedr,* These two areas were thus presiunably characterized 
by intermixed ownership, eight tenants having parcels in carreg 
y gwydd and seventeen in gallt bedr,* Some intermixture of parcels 
in Anglesey thus seems demonstrable, although we learn nothing 
about the shape of the parcels, their relation one to another, or 
the method by which they were tilled. The character of the 
open field is far from clear, and the descriptions of the free- 

1 Land Rev., M. B. 205, £. 135. • Ibid., £. 30. 

* Ibid., ff. 25-30. * Ibid., £. 28. 

* e. g., " Sex parcelle terre arabilis iacentes sparsim in gallt beder continentes ii 


• The areas in acres were as follows: — 

carreg y gwydd, 3 (" acras terre arabilis iacentes ^>arsim 'Of <» 2, 8 (7 par- 
ceb of arable, 1, i, il (4 parcels of arable), 2! 

galU bedr, 3 (i parcel), 3 (6 parcels of arable), 2 (3 parcels of arable " spar- 
sim ")} 2 (5 parceb of arable), i (6 parcels of arable '' sparsim ")} i (2 
parcels of arable), i + i (7 parcds of arable) + i (meadow), i (2 par- 
ceb '' sparsim '')» i (^ parceb of arable), 2 (6 parcds of arable " spar- 
sim "), i, i, 4 (8 parceb of arable), i (6 parcds of arable), 2 (4 parcds 
of arable)» 2 (6 parcds of arable '' sparsim ")i 3 (5 parcds of arable 
" sparsim ")• 


holds of these manors add little to our knowledge. Since in 
them closes are sometimes designated as such, we may perhaps 
be justified in inferring that parcels not so designated were unen- 
closed and non-adjacent.^ Considered in its entirety, accord- 
ingly, the evidence from Anglesey points to the existence there in 
Jacobean days of holdings which consisted to some extent at least 
of scattered parcels of arable lying in open fields. 

In other parts of Wales than those already considered traces of 
open field are slight. The twenty-six tenants of the manor of 
Eglowis Kyminjn Carmarthen had in 7 James I only '' parks " 
or closes.* In a survey of Gower and Kilvey, Glamorganshire, 
made in 1665, there were many " closes " and " parcels," but 
little to indicate open field. Of doubtful significance are the 
" three other parcells, called fields, leying intermixt with the 
lands of the said George Lucas," containing three acres.' In 
the six large volumes of Cartae et alia Munimenta quae ad 
Dominium de Glamorgancia pertinent, edited by G. L. Clark, we 
find many descriptions of closes, but only two or three revealing 
<^n fields. In the fief of Landbither four acres are specified, of 

^ A certain &ediold, for example, consisted of a house, a garden, and " quatuor 
parcellasterrearabilisvocatisCaypenykevninsimulcontinentes . 
V acras 1 perticatas 

unam parcdlam terre et pasture, unam pedam vocatam cay bach, et alter- 
am .. . iacentes super quandam clansam vocatam Cay y weyrglodd 
continentes . . . ii rodas xiv perticatas 

unam parcdlam terre arabilis vocatam y rerw dew continentem . . . i acram 

unam aliam parcdlam terre arabilis iacentem in quadam Clausa vocata Cay 
r Uo continentem . . . i acram 

et aUam parcellam terre arabilis vocatam y dalarhir continentem . . . zzx 

et aliam parcdlam terre arabilis iacentem in loco vocato cay y felin continen- 
tem . . . i rodam xzxv perticatas 

et clausam terre arabilis et pastiure sazosam continentem . . . v acras 

et parcdlam terre arabilis et prati vocatam bryn Uin continentem in 
toto . . . ii acras 

unam aUam parcellam terre arabilis iacentem in quadam clausa vocata 
Penihyn fadog continentem . . . ii rodas z perticatas " (Land Rev., 
M. B. 205, f. 16). 

* Land Rev., M. B. 258, ff. 1-17. 

* Arckaeclogia Cambrensis, Supplement of Original Documents, i. 370. 


" dime acrae iacent in cultura qui vocatur Kayraryan . . . 
et una acra iacet in cultura qui vocatur Kayrpistel 
et una acra iacet in cultura qui vocatur Hendref." 

This may be open field or it may not be. Somewhat more sug- 
gestive of it are the 4} acres of arable which were conveyed along 
with one-third of a messuage in Landoghe; ^ but abundant testi- 
mony of this sort is by no means forthcoming. 

Our examination of Jacobean surveys from Wales has brought 
to light only a relatively slight extent of open arable field in which 
the parcels of the tenants were intermixed. In each of the two 
townships of Pembi^okeshire for which areas can be estimated it 
did not exceed one hundred acres, and it was not greater in the 
Denbighshire townships. In purely Welsh regions little more 
than the existence of common arable fields in Jacobean days can 
be determined. 

A reason for the insignificance of such fields, together with 
testimony to their earlier prevalence, is to be found in Owen's 
description of Pembrokeshire, written in 1603. Explaining why 
winter com is so little grown in that county, the author remarks: 
" One other cause was the use of gavelkinde used amonge most of 
these Welshmen to parte all the Fathers patrymonie amonge all 
his sonnes, so that in proces of tyme the whole countrie was 
brought into smale peeces of ground and intermingled upp and 
downe one with another, so as in every five or sixe acres you shall 
have ten or twelve owners; this made the Countrie to remayne 
Champion, and without enclosures or hedging, and wynter Come 
if it weare sowen amonge them should be grased all the winter 
and eaten by sheepe and other catteU, which could not be kept 
from the same: . . . this in my opinion was one cheefe cause 

> " Dimidia acra iacet in loco qui vocatur Votlond inter terram . . . et 
terram . . . et caput ejus ocddens extenditur usque ad feodum de 
due acre et dimidia iacent apud Langeton inter terram . . . et terram . . . 
dimidia acra iacet inter terram . . . et terram . . . 
dimidia acra iacet scilicet in Votlond inter terram . . . et terram . . . 
dimidia acra iacet in loco appellato Morewithe Stlad . . . 
una roda iacet in parte boreali prati quondam Alexandri '* Cartae, etc. 
(Cardiff, 1910), iii. 722. 


they restrayned sowing of wynter come but as nowe sy thence the 
use of gavelkinde is abolished for these threescore yeares past [by 
statute of 34 and 35 Henry VIII c. 26, sees. 36, 64] in many partes 
the grounde is brought together by purchase & exchanges and 
headging & enclosures much encreased, and now they fall to the 
tillinge of this wynter come in greater aboimdance then before." ^ 

From this it is clear that parcels of holdings in the Welsh parts 
of Pembrokeshire had once been intermixed and imendosed but 
that the abolition of transmission by gavelkind had encouraged 
consolidation and enclosure. The reference to gavelkind sug- 
gests that it was a determining principle in the Welsh field system, 
and at once calls to mind the part played by co-tenants in Scottish 
agrarian arrangements. Before following out these suggestions, 
however, we shall profit by attending for a little to Irish condi- 
tions; and we shall naturally inquire first whether Irish units of 
settlement were, like those of Scotland and Wales,* of the hamlet 
type surroimded by small arable fields. 

In Ireland the units of settlement are and long have been the 
townlands, but in seventeenth-century surveys they assimae 
various names and are variously grouped into larger units. Since 
many of these units were more or less artificial, subserving pur- 
poses of rating or assessment, like English hides or virgates, it is 
always necessary to keep apart the actual from the artificial units. 
The size and shape of an actual Irish townland of the nineteenth 
century is illustrated by any section of the six-inch ordnance sur- 
vey map; and the areas of the eight towns which Seebohm has 
reproduced from county Monaghan, and which range in size from 
35 to 165 acres with an average of about 90 acres, are entirely 

Seebohm has gone farther, and identified these eight townlands 
by means of their names with eight totes of a survey of 1607. 
The tate was primarily a unit of rating, whereas the Latin term 
for townland was villata. Sometimes, as in the instance dted 

* Geoige Owen, The Description of Penbrokshiref (ed. H. Owen, Cymmrodorion 
Record Series, 3 pts., London, 1892-1906), i. 61. 

* The places referred to in the survey of the lordship of Bromfield and Yale 
were usually hamlets, the arable fields of which were inextensive, , 

' English Village Community ^ p. 224. 


by Seebohm, villata and tate corresponded in extent; ^ elsewhere 
they did not, more than one villata being sometimes included in a 
tate.' Again, in county Tyrone, where the townland was equiva- 
lent to the '' balliboe " and contained about sixty acres, it was 
itself a unit of rating.' In county Fermanagh, however, it once 
more diiSered from the artificial units. Usually each of the seven 
baronies into which this county had been artificially divided con- 
tained seven and one-half baUybetages, Each ballybetage in turn 
contained four quarters, each quarter four tates, each tate 30 
acres, " contrey measure." In consequence the barony com- 
prised 30 artificial quarters, or 1 20 tates.^ Elsewhere we learn 
that the first of the baronies, Knockenyng, was six miles in length 
by three in breadth, " wherein are 24 townes." * The townlands 
in county Fermanagh therefore corresponded with none of the 
artificial units, although they were not far removed in size from 
the quarters. In this barony of Knockenyng their average area 
was 150 acres. In Donegal the villata was equivalent to the 
quarter, and, since 7I quarters are said to have contained about 
1000 acres,* the townland here too comprised on the average 
about 125 acres. 

> InqtdsUionum in Officio Rohdorum Cancdlariae Hibemiae ReperSori$tm (Rec 
Com., 2 vols., 1826-29), ii, co. Monaghan, no. 2 (1609): " Tres vfl' sive precmcte 
terre vocate t>allibetaglies . . . que . . . continent quaadam minores parcellas, 
villatas sive particulas tene vocate tates, viz. Ballileggichory continet i tate 
vocatam Ballileggichory, i tate vocatam Mullaghbracke " [etc.; sixteen tates are 

* Ibid., no. 4 (1619) : " Jacobus O'Donelly nuper abbas nuper monasteri sanc- 
torum Petri et Pauli de Ardmagh ac conventtis . . . seisati fuerunt . . . de 
separalibus villis, villatis sive hamkttis et terris vocatis Mulla^iegny, Rea^ 
Aghnelyny, Edenaguin et Broaghduff, cum suis pertinentibus continentibus i 
tate . . . acde villis, villatis sive hamlettisac terris vocatis KnocknecamyetUmy, 
cum suis pertinentibus continentibus i tate." 

* Ibid., Tyrone, no. 5 (1628) : " King James did grant unto James Claphame 
... all the lands in the severall townes, etc. following, i. e., Clo^iogall being i 
towne or balliboe of land, Creigfaduffe being i towne-land," etc These townlands 
consisted of three sessiagks each. The uniformity of the subdivision and of the 
sixty-acre area (ibid., 1661, no. 19) are what suggest that the taume is here a unit 
of rating rather than one of settlement. 

* Ibid., pp. xxxiii-xl. 

* Ibid., p. xviiL 

* Ibid., Donegal, no. 9 (1620). 


In a survey of 32 Henry VIII we are told the areas of the town- 
lands, and learn in addition how many peasant households each 
contained. Two descriptions run as follows : — 

'' Villata de Balnestragh. William Dyxson tenet sdtimi man- 
erii vocati Balnestragh super quod edificantur duo castra . . . 
terra dominica continet Ix acras terre arabiUs et i acram prati 
iacentes in villata de Balnestragh. . . . 

'' Et [dicimt] quod simt infra eandem villatam vii messuagia 
cxv acre iii rode terre arabilis x acre communis pasture ac ii acre 
more in occupatione Donaldi O'Daylye, Donaldi Holloghan et 
aliorum. ... Et sunt iii cottagia. . . . 

'' Et [dicimt] quod sunt in Villata de Ballerayne vi messuagia 
cxxxiii acre terre arabilis xx acre communis pasture et xx acre 
more quas Mauridus O'Nayry, clericus, Ricardus O'Morrye et 
alii tenentes ibidem occupant. ... Et simt x cotagia. . . . " ^ 

From these instances we may conclude that Irish imits of 
settlement were in size much like Scottish townships. Their 
areas, averaging from one hundred to two hundred acres, were 
perhaps a little greater and their tenants may have been a little 
more nimierous. From the point of view of the English midlands, 
however, both forms of settlement coalesced into what may be 
called the Celtic type. Instead of the large village we find the 
hamlet; instead of extensive arable fields, the restricted areas 
of the farm, the townland, or the petty township. Wherever in 
England hamlets and small townships appear as the prevailing 
type of settlement, Celtic influence is to be suspected. Within 
the three-field area we hav§ already seen such, notably in the 
border counties, Herefordshire and Shropshire. If, however, 
Celtic influence determined the form of settlement and the size 
of the townships there, it did not prevent the superposition of a 
three-field system upon the arable. Since such, a system was not 
Celtic, a further effort should be made to determine what was its 
Celtic correspondent. 

We have seen that a salient feature of the ancient agriculture 
of Scotland and Wale^ was the intermixture of the parcels of the 
tenants. ELnown in Scotland as runrig or rundale, this feature 

^ Rents, and Survs., Ro. 934. 



was there to be seen at the end of the eighteenth century in farms 
or townships which had not been improved. Although in Wales 
it was far less usual in the eighteenth century, or even at the 
end of the sixteenth, traces of it have been discerned at both 
periods. An item from the early seventeenth-century survey of 
Robeston in southwestern Wales has disclosed how rundale 
might arise, nine parcels of land there having been divided among 
four tenants, with resultant intermixture; and a contemporary 

Sketch of a Townluid in Donegal, Ireland, showteg 
the HoIdMngs of three Tenants. 1845. 

Map XI 

account of Pembrokeshire relates that such subdivision and inter- 
mixture were still more prevalent at an earlier time, attributing 
the phenomenon to the custom of transmitting land by gavelkind. 
From Scotland we learn that Scottish runrig was characteristic of 
farms held by co-tenants and of lands held by co-heirs. The 
reporters imply that it was an ancient custom, and excuse it as 
a concomitant in earlier days of the grouping of peasants 
in villages for purposes of defence. Since historical explanations 
were with them only remarks by the way, a further examination 
of the occasions which gave rise to runrig and of the antiquity of 
the phenomenon is desirable. 


Perhaps the most pertinent testimony on these points comes 
neither from Scotland nor from Wales, but from their more purely 
Celtic neighbor, Ireland. This evidence, too, is of a more recent 
date than that hitherto dted. It is embodied in the report of the 
so-called Devon Commission, made to parliament in the middle 
of the nineteenth century.^ From this report came (apparently 
at second hand) the plan which Seebohm used to illustrate the 
intermixed strips of the tenants of an Irish townland.^ The plan 
itself, which is herewith once more reproduced, is instructive, 
but the accompan3dng explanation, which Seebohm omits, is still 
more so. It runs as follows: — 

'' Fig. i shows the condition to which subdivision of holdings 
has brought a neglected townland in Donegal, containing 205 
statute acres. The whole was occupied in one farm two genera- 
tions ago; it then became divided into two farms, and those two 
have been since subdivided into twenty-nine holdings, scattered 
into 422 diiSerent lots. The average arable quantity of each hold- 
ing is four acres, held in fourteen different parts of the townland; 
the average quantity of pasture per farm is three acres, held in 
lots in common. The largest portion of arable held by any one 
man is under eight acres; the smallest quantity of arable in any 
one farm is about two roods. The pasture being held in common 
cannot be improved. . . . They had been in the habit of sub- 
dividing their lands, not into two, when a division was contem- 
plated, but into as many times two as there were qualities of 
land in the gross quantity to be divided. They would not hear 
of an equivalent of two bad acres being set against one good one, 
in order to maintain union and compactness. Every quality 
must be cut in two, whatever its size, or whatever its position. 
Each must have his half perches, although they be ever so distant 
from his half acres. And this tendency is attributable to the 
conviction of these poor ignorant people, that each morsel of their 
neglected land is at present in the most productive state to which 
it can be brought." • 

> Evidence . . . [an] the State of the Law and Practice in respect to the Occupa- 
tion ofLa$tdin Irdand^ 4 vols. {ParL Papers^ 1S45, vols, ziz-zzii). 
* English Village Community ^ p. 238. 
■ Pari. Papers, 1845, »^ apP-i P- 59' 


The most surprising thing in this account is perhaps not the 
excessive subdivision which resulted in 205 acres being cut up 
into 422 lots held intennixedly by twenty-nine tenants; it is 
rather that a compact farm had been thus transformed within 
two generations — a fact which Seebohm neglected to note. The 
cause of the subdivision and the manner in which it had been 
made are indicated in the quotation. Co-tenancy had been re- 
sponsible. This custom demanded that the heirs of a tenant 
receive equal parcels of each quality of his land, no matter how 
widely distributed the plots of the same quality may have been. 
The tangle of strips and plats shown on the map was the result. 

Such an account corresponds with what has already been noted 
relative to a Scottish farm or townland. There, too, co-heirs 
were often the tenants who held their lands in runrig. In both 
countries other tenants, not heirs of the original holder, must at 
times, through purchase or otherwise, have substituted them- 
selves for some of the co-heirs. But the principle is plain and 
the rapidity with which results could be achieved is startling. 
With such a tradition at work, both countries must necessarily 
at one time or another have had many a townland as much 
subdivided as were the open fields of the English midlands. 
Testimony to the prevalence of runrig in Scotland before the 
middle of the eighteenth century has been given. Something 
more should be added regarding Ireland. 

When the Devon Commission made its report in 1845 nmrig 
had pretty nearly disappeared in certain parts of the island. 
The following quotations are respectively from Antrim, Down, 
and Londonderry, three coimties of Ulster: — 

" Are there many farms near you held in nmdale, or in com- 
mon ? " " Very few. . . . There are none on the Ballycastle 
estate. ... I do not know more than a dozen cases in my 
range. I consider it a very objectionable system." 

" Are there any persons holding in common or in joint ten- 
ancy ? " " Very few. I do not know any at present. I had a 
property some time ago imder me which was in nmdale." " In 
what state were the tenants ? " " Very bad indeed; but I 
divided it all." 


'' There are no farms held in rundale for some years past; I 
remember when it was the practice. [Yet] farms are a good deal 
subdivided among the members of a family which is a bad sys- 
tem." * 

In Roscommon there was more of rundale, and again we are 
told of the custom which produced it: — 

Are there many farms held in common or in joint tenancy ? " 

Yes, a good many." '' What is the condition of the people 
occupying them ? " " Principally very poor persons. There 
are none others in my neighborhood. . . . [The system] is 
decreasing . . . it is very much the habit of the lower orders 
to divide their holdings, and give to their sons and sons-in-law 
a portion of their holdings, which leaves the holding little enough 
to support them and pay their rent. ..." * 

The best account of the getting rid of rundale was given by 
Marcus Keane, Esq., who was land agent for about 60,000 acres 
in or near county Clare. This large area was owned by twelve 
proprietors (principally by three), but was occupied by a great 
number of tenants. Few holdings were larger than fifteen acres. 
Since Keane had occasion to divide " many thousand acres," there 
mu^t have been relatively more of nmdale in county Clare than 
in the northeast of the island. His description of the situation 
and of his own activity is as follows: — 

" The farms were hitherto (and are up to this day, where the 
changes have not been made) held by tenants in several different 
divisions scattered over the district, some . . . being as far as a 
mile distant from other divisions. In some cases one man held 
so many as ten, twelve, or fourteen different divisions, and it has 
been my business to go through the estates and divide them out 
again, giving each tenant his holding in one lot of a convenient 
size and extending to the high road. . . . [At first there was 
opposition] but of late the people themselves wish to have the 
changes made. . . . There was one case of a large farm of 1000 
acres held among 200 tenants nearly, and they gave me much 
opposition. It was two years before I completely satisfied them 
all and satisfied myself. . . . And among the tenants upon 

^ PaiL P^)en, 1845, ziz, nos. 130, 99, 131. * Ibid., zz, do. 430. 


many thousand acres, whose farms I have so divided, I do not 
know more than two or three who complain." ^ 

Proceeding, Keane corrected the testimony of the Rev. Timothy 
Kelly, who had stated that on one farm nineteen or twenty 
houses had been levelled. Again we perceive the extreme sub- 
division of a small township and the process by which it had 
come about. " The fact is, that only eleven families were turned 
out, and fewer than eleven houses were levelled. . . . only 
one [tenant] had so much as five acres; the remaining ten had 
[together] less than twenty acres. . . . The person who had five 
acres was never known as a tenant, but was the younger son of a 
tenant who had divided his land without permission . . . most of 
them were persons who had divided their holdings, or had been 
brought in by such persons without permission . . . the whole farm 
contains 185 acres of arable land besides bog, and there are left on 
it twenty-six tenants, making an average of less than eight acres 
to each; only one tenant of these has more than twelve acres 
of arable, and that man has not thirteen acres." * 

These descriptions of Irish farms in the nineteenth century 
confijm the Scottish reports of a half-century earlier and assist in 
explaining them. In Ireland, as in Scotland, the farm or town- 
land was occupied by several tenants. The arable was in rundale, 
the parcels of a tenant being considerably scattered and inter- 
mixed with those of other tenants. What is new in the Irish 
account is the description of the rapidity with which the sub- 
division could be achieved. In the Donegal townland two 
generations had been sufficient to transform an undivided area 
of 205 acres into 422 separate lots held intermixedly by twenty- 
nine tenants. In the last quotation a townland of 185 acres was 
deprived of eleven tenants because they had, not long before, 
become tenants through unwarranted division. The witness 
from Roscommon conunented on the frequency, with which the 
'^ lower orders " divided their holdings among their sons and 

The Irish evidence thus supplements the Welsh and Scottish 
by accounting for the appearance of nmdale. Rtmdale was pri- 

1 Pari. Papers, 1845, ^> >^o* 1063 (14-16). * Ibid., zzi, do. 1063 (4). 



manly due to the custom of transmitting land to co-heirs and 
giving to each a share in parcels of every quality. In a brief time 
this practice might transform a compact farm or townland into a 
congeries of ill-compacted holdings, and, once transformed, a 
farm had little chance of regaining its earlier semblance except by 
the falling-in of the leases or by the action of the landlord. 

Since in Scotland at the end of the eighteenth century runrig 
was considered ancient, it becomes pertinent to inquire whether 
transmission of holdings to co-heirs was a custom found in Celtic 
countries in earlier times. The Jacobean description of Pem- 
brokeshire notes that its effects were at that time beginning to 
disappear. Hence we turn with expectation to a Welsh survey 
of the Tudor period which gives suggestive information. The two 
following descriptions of holdings, which are typical, illustrate 
how a transmission to several co-heirs, presumably resultant in 
runrig, had recently taken place at Eskirmaen.^ To judge 
from the rents, which elsewhere in the survey are 2 d. the acre, 
the first holding must have contained about 35 acres, the second 
about 150: — 


John s^ griffith hemy 

howell ap henry 

david ap meredydd griffith Uoyd 

Morgan s^ meredydd ap griffith Uo3rd 

Isabeil merch griffith ap meredydd s^ griffith Uoyd 

Maude merch griffith ap meredydd ap griffith Uoyd 

GwenUian merch griffith s^ mered3rdd s^ griffith Uo3rd 

'* Johannes dny ap gwilym Gwalter 
Redd ap meredydd ap gwilym Gwalter 
Johannes ap Jenfi s^ gwilym Gwalter 
howeU ap Jenfi ap gwilym Gwalter 
Griffith ap Morgan ap gwalter 
Gwalter ap Morgan ap gwalter 
Johannes ap Owen ap morgan 
David ap Owen ap morgan 
Gwalter ap Henry morgan 

tenent certas terras 
et tenementa ibi- 
dem que nuperfue- 
runt henrid ap 
griffith Uoyd. 

tenent certas terras 
et tenementa que 
nuper fuerunt 
Gwalter ap Jenfi 

This Tudor survey with its holdings in the occupation of several 
heirs finds a prototype in another and earlier Welsh survey — a 
rate-book of 8 Edward UI, known as the Denbigh extent. 

* Rents, and Survs., D. of Lanc^ Portf. 12/4 (15-19 Hen. VII), ff. 2jb, 286. 


Although this has regard primarily to the assessment of rents, 
the number of persons bearing the same family name who have 
become responsible for the return from a particular lecium^ 
GavelUy or Wele (the terms are used interchangeably) testifies to 
the widespread transmission of land to co-heirs. The structure of 
the vUkUa ^ of Wigf air in the commot of Ysdulas will make this 
dear.* The vilkUa in question consisted of eight leday the first of 
which was divided into three smaller leda or gavellae, while the 
first of these in turn comprised three gavellae or wdes, each 
having several tenants. If we attend to only the first of the sub- 
divisions in each instance, the account runs as follows: — 

" Villata de Wyckewere cum Hamellis de Boydroghyn et Kyl- 
mayl consistebat temporibus Prindpum ante Conquestum in octo 
lectis unde vi lecta fuenmt in omnibus lods predictis. . . . 
Et de hiis vi lectis 

[i] unum lectum fuit penitus in tenura liberonun quod 

vocatur Wele Lauwargh' ap Kendelyk. 
[n] Secundum lectum consistit videlicet due partes in 
tenura liberonun et tertia pars in tenura Nativorum 
quod lectum vocatur Wele Morythe. 
[m] Terdum lectum consistit videlicet due partes in 
tenura liberonun et tertia pars in tenura Nativo- 
nun quod quidem lectxun vocatur Wde Peidyth' 
[iv-vi] Cetera tria lecta de predictis vi lectis fuenmt in- 
tegre in tenura Nativorum, unde primum lectum 
vocatur Wde Breynt' secundum lectum vocatur 
Wele Meyon et terdum vocatur Wde Bothloyn. 
[vn-vm] Et duo ultima lecta . . . fuenmt tantumodo in 
villa de Boydroghyn et consistimt penitus in tenura 
Nativonun, imde primum lectum vocatur Wde 
Anergh Guyrdyon et secundum lectum vocatur 
Wde Thlowthon. ... 

^ The villata of fourteenth-centuiy Wales was a far larger unit than the Irish 
villata or townland of the seventeenth century, referred to above (pp. 187-189). 

* Survey of ike Honour of Denbigh, 1334 (ed. P. Vinogradoff and F. Morgan, 
London, 1914), pp. aio-aia. 


[i] De primo lecto [Wele Lauwargh' ap Kendelyk] . . . 
f uerunt tria lecta seu tres gavelle videlicet 

[a] Wele Risshard ap Lauwargh' 

[b] Wele Moridyk ap Law' et 

[c] Wele Kandalo ap Lauwargh'. . . . 

[a] De Wele Risshard ap Lauwargh' fiunt tres ga- 
velle videlicet 

[i] gavella Madok ap Risshard 
[2] gavella Kendalo ap Risshard et 
{3] gavella Ken' ap Risshard. 

[i] Gronou ap Madok Vaghan, Eynon 
Routh' frater eius, Heilyn ap Eynon 
ap Risshard, Heilyn ap Gron' ap Ey- 
non, Bleth' et Ithel fratres eius et 
Heilyn' ap Eynon Gogh' tenent ga- 
vellam Madok ap Risshard integre, 
redd, de Tung' inter se per annum . . . 
[8 d. + 12 d. + 6 d. + 7i d. -h 6 d.]. 
Et faciunt cetera servida cum aliis 
liberis istius commoti in communi, de 
quibus patebit in fine istius commoti 
inter communes consuetudines &c." 

[ii] Seven men, of whom three are brothers 
of two others, hold Gavella Kendalo 
ap Risshard " integre." 

[iii] Thirteen men, of whom seven are 
brothers of five others and one is a guar- 
dian of one other, hold three-fourths 
of Gavella Ken' ap Risshard, and one- 
fourth is escheat to the lord. 

The first of the lecta was in the hands of the descendants of a 
certain Lauwarghe, from whom it derived its name. To his three 
sons, Risshard, Moridyk, and Kandalo, it had passed as three 
lecta or gavellae. The three sons of Risshard, named Madock, 
Kendalo, and Ken', had in turn received their father's share as 
three gavellae, and their cousins had inherited similarly. Thus 


far there had been subdivision of the original lectum. Thence- 
forth these units allotted to the grandsons of Lauwarghe did not 
undergo formal subdivision. Yet each was by no means trans- 
mitted to a single heir; one of them might come to be held by as 
many as thirteen co-tenants. For the most part, each group of 
co-tenants, to judge from the names of its members, was de- 
scended from one of the grandsons of Lauwarghe, but for the 
futiu'e its bond of union was its joint responsibility for the rents 
and services due from the gavella which it now held " integre." 
In this manner did co-tenancy arise. 

Thus by somewhat devious ways the custom of transmitting a 
holding to co-heirs has been followed from Scotland and Ireland 
in the eighteenth century to Wales in the fourteenth. It is, as 
Seebohm has shown,^ a usage apparent in early Celtic law, and 
from primitive times can scarcely have failed to influence the 
field system of a hamlet. The subdivision that went on in the 
Donegal township during two nineteenth-century generations had 
without doubt often occurred at an earlier time in Ireland, in Scot- 
land, and in Wales. Probably the early usage was to make the 
allotments for a year only; such a custom, as we have seen, was 
still observed in Scotland as late as the eighteenth century. In 
Wales, however, permanent allotments may have taken place 
before the sixteenth century, since Owen, describing Pembroke- 
shire, declared that the extreme subdivision of the lands of the 
Welsh in that county was due to the custom of transmission by 
gavelkind, a custom itself made illegal by a statute of Henry 


Whatever may have been the time when the subdivision among 
co-tenants came to be made for periods longer than a year, there 
is little doubt about the manner in which it took place. Each 
heir, the Irish account declares, demanded a portion of all quali- 
ties of land within the townland. As a result, small scattered 
parcels became the constituents of each allotment or holding. 
Certain of these parcels were of course arable, and so far as this 
was the case it was more or less necessary that the tenants should 
share in the ploughing; seldom can one of the co-heirs have had 

» Em^ish ViOoifi Cc mmumiiy , pp. 193-194- « Cf. above, p. 187. 


enough horses or oxen for a plough team. Cooperative ploughmg 
must, in short, have been a custom complementary to the sub- 
division of holdings among heirs. Further, in so far as the parcels 
were arable and ploughed with a common plough they would 
tend to be, not block-shaped, but long and narrow, for such was 
the shape of the imit ploughed by the heavy plough. Pastiu-e 
subdivided among heirs might fall into parcels of any shape; 
arable would in its nature separate into strips like those described 
by the Scottish reporters to the Board of Agriculture. 

The appearance of runrig can thus be explained as due to the 
custom of subdividing arable land of different qualities among 
co-heirs. This custom and its effects constitute the second of 
the distinctions which differentiate the field system of Celtic coun- 
tries from that of midland England. The first difference we have 
foimd in the markedly smaller size of Celtic townships. It has 
now become clear that the intermixed holdings of central England 
had one history, those of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales another. 
In the English midlands, virgates consisting of scattered strips had 
been fully formed when they were first described in the thirteenth 
century; after that they underwent little change through sub- 
division, the integrity^ of the virgate almost never admitting of 
fission into more than four parts. In Celtic countries, on the other 
hand, subdivision of a townland or a township sometimes first 
arose as late as the eighteenth century, and no limits were set to 
the lengths to which it might go. The distinction is fundamental 
for the comprehension of runrig, and explains the greater flexi- 
bility of its open-field arrangements. 

In a general way, however, the furlongs of open arable field 
cultivated in accordance with Celtic runrig presented an aspect 
not very different from that of an English midland township. 
We must therefore hasten to note two other distinctions between 
midland and Celtic arrangements, those, namely, which resided 
in the methods of tillage employed and in the grouping of the 
parcels of the tenants' holdings. 

Relative to Welsh tillage the Denbigh survey of 1334 twice 
mentions a three-course rotation of crops; but in both instances 
the reference is to demesne lands and the usage was apparently of 


recent introduction since these lands had been '' converted '' to 
it^ Elsewhere in the survey there seems to be a tacit under- 
standing that old Welsh methods of tillage prevailed. What 
these had come to be in Pembrdceshire in 1603 Owen tells us: 
'' The part of the sheere inhabited by the Welshmen as before is 
saied, followinge their forefathers husbandrie regard more the 
tillage of oates then of the former graines. . . . [After folding 
cattle upon parcels of land from March to November] this lande 
they plowe in November and December, & in March they sowe oates 
in yt and have comonlie a goodlie Cropp, then they followe these 
landes with oates seaven eight or ten yeares together till the lande 
growe so weake&baren that it will not yeald the seede: and then 
let they that lande lie for eight or tesi yeares in pasture for their 
Cattell." * Such tillage is like that of the Scottish outfield, and 
since there is no mention of continuously tilled infields we may 
conclude that it represents primitive Celtic usage. 

This tillage of Scottish or Welsh outfields was, of course, far 
removed from English midland methods. To take crops of oats 
for a succession of years from land which had been prepared by a 
preliminary dressing of manure, and then to turn the exhausted 
fields over to fallow pasture for another succession of years, was 
unknown in the valley of the Trent. More like midland practices 
was the tillage of the Scottish infield. On this there was often a 
three-coiurse rotation of crops; but the tillage differed in that the 
three crops were all spring grains, the cultivation was continuous, 
and the absence of fallowing was compensated for by annual 
manuring. Such advanced practices must have been innovations 
in Scotland, probably not much antedating the seventeenth 
century.' In English counties which may in early times have had 
a Celtic field system this particular development probably 

^ " £t sunt in dominico de terra arabOi conversa in tress eisonas . . ." (Survey 
of ike Honour of Denbigh^ pp. 4, 230.) 

* Description of Penbrokskire, i. 6i-6a. 

* An account of " two husbandlands " at Lymouth in Berwiduhire, dated 165 1, 
gives detail for the infield and the outfield s^Mirately; two other descriptions of 
fractiimal husbandlands at the same place, earlier by a half-century, make no dis- 
tinction between infield and outfield lands. Cf. Hist MSS. Commission, MSS. rf 
Col. D. M. Home (1902), pp. 220, 212, 214. 


seldom took place.* From the limitations of outfield tillage 
another escape, it seems, was devised and some approach to 
midland methods was made.* But this happened so early and 
the traces of outfield cultivation in England are so slight that 
the contrast between Celtic and midland tillage, sharp as it was 
in reality, is not very helpful in estimating Celtic influences in 

On this account it is desirable to determine for the Celtic system 
the attribute which we have so often found pertinent in midland 
England — the grouping of the parcels of a tenant's holding 
within the arable area. In the fragmentary Welsh fields of the 
sixteenth century such grouping would tell us little. Where only 
a few tenants had each a parcel or at best a few parcels in the 
conmion arable field, the location of the parcel or parcels imports 
little, since the tenant's reliance was upon his closes. If the 
grouping of parcels is to be important, the parcels must constitute 
the major part of the holding. 

So they did in Scotland and without doubt in Ireland. In the 
latter country, whenever townlands were subdivided each tenant 
desired a share of each quality of land. The location of the 
parcels of a holding was thus dependent upon the number and 
location of the different qualities of land to be divided. There 
can scarcely have been thought of dividing the townland into two 
or three equal compact fields. Indeed, it would have been impos- 
sible to do this unless nature had given to the township only two 
or three qualities of land in compact areas, and there would have 
been no occasion for doing it imless a fixed two- or three-course 
rotation of crops was to be established. The map of the Donegal 
townland, which has been reproduced above, shows no such divi- 
sion. The strips there assigned to three tenants were not scattered 
throughout the arable; in fact, in about one-half of it no one 
of the three tenants had any strip whatever. The field system 
evolved by Irish co-heirs and co-tenants in the eighteenth and 
nineteenth centuries was clearly not that of the English midlands. 

In Scotland the succession of crops itself prevented the sub- 
division of the outfield into three equal parts. Only about 

^ But cf. below, p. 232. * Cf. below, pp. 221, 225-226, 271. 


one-tenth of it was brought from grass into tillage each year, the 
remaining tenths being similarly treated in succeeding years. It 
is possible, however, that the infield may have met with tripartite 
division, since a three-course rotation of crops was usual there. 
Yet no advantage could have been gained by the marking out of 
three compact areas. All crops were spring grains and no fur- 
longs lay fallow; rights of summer pasturage, the main pretext for 
the tripartite division of English midland fields, were non-exist- 
ent. Nothing would have been sacrificed if the furlongs which in 
any year were devoted to barley had not been contiguous. Nor 
do the docmnents divide Scottish infields by hard and inflexible 
boimdaries into three equal compact areas; the parcels of a hold- 
ing are not, for example, assigned to East field. North field, and 
South field. Absence of division by fields thus becomes a con- 
comitant of runrig and one of its distinguishing marks. It will 
prove important when the question of Celtic influence in England 
arises. Terriers from coimties where such influence is suspected 
should, if the suspicion be correct, show no grouping of their 
parcels by fields. 

Before the subject of Celtic field arrangements is dismissed, it 
should be pointed out that the subdivision of arable in the manner 
of nmrig was not, at any one time or place, an essential charac- 
teristic of the system. If the explanation of the origin of runrig 
above given be correct, such subdivision was rather an accident. 
Farms, townships, townlands, which are found divided in the 
eighteenth century may well have been undivided a few genera- 
tions earlier. Landlords may at times, on the expiration of leases, 
have taken certain townships in hand and reconsolidated holdings; 
in the recompacted areas subdivision may once more have been 
permitted and the cycle again have run its coiurse. Regarding 
Celtic countries, then, no sweeping statefnent can be made as 
to the precise aspect of the townships at any particular time. 
Some of them may have been entirely in the hands of one or two 
tenants, with no nmrig manifest; others may have been much 

The latter sort would in turn have assumed different aspects in 
so far as arable or pasture predominated. If the township were 


devoted to pasturage, doses, more or less irregular in shape, 
would appear. In the Donegal townland the pasture was '' held 
in lots in conunon/' The map shows that the plots of pasture 
in the occupation of a tenant were about as much severed one 
from another as were the strips. Yet there was less reason for 
their being so and remaining so, since pasture is not so diverse 
in its qualities as arable and there was no question of common 
ploughing. One can, therefore, imagine co-heirs subdividing a 
pasturage township on broader lines than they would have 
thought applicable to one largely arable. For these reasons it is 
not improbable that such a township sometimes broke apart into 
doses which may have been to some extent consolidated. 

Probably this is what happened at times in Wales. There in 
the sixteenth century township after township consisted of doses,^ 
those of a holding being frequently contiguous. The prindpality 
seems at that time to have been much more of a stranger to run- 
rig than was Ireland or Scotland, a circimistance best explained 
by the Tudor prohibition of transmission by gavelkind and by 
the hypothesis of an early predominance of pasture. In Scot- 
land, as we know, runrig prevailed in the first half of the eighteenth 
century, and the situation in Ireland was without doubt similar. 
The reason must have been that arable was, or had been, rela- 
tively more extensive in these countries than in Wales. If this 
supposition be correct, the different aspects assumed by the fields 
of Celtic countries are only natural developments of a flexible field 

We are left, accordingly, with four distinctive characteristics of 
the Celtic field syst«n. In the first place, the oi>en arable fields 
were small, a necessary corollary of the small size of the town- 
ships; in the second place, they frequently consisted of the 
intermixed strips of several tenants, but this intermixture was 
variable, originating with and depending upon the extent to 
which subdivision among co-heirs or co-tenants had proceeded; 
in the third place, the rotation of crops, so far as we know it, was 
not winter com, spring com, fallow, but something quite different, 
viz., a succession of spring crops followed by several fallow years, 

^ Afchaeolopa Cambrensis, SuppkmetU ef Original Documents, vol. i passim. 


or an unbroken succession of three crops of spring com upon land 
manured once every three years; finally, the tenants' parceb 
were not divided between two or three large arable fields, and 
there is no evidence that fields of this sort ever existed. 

The influence of such a system in England is not altogether 
easy to trace in the dociunents at hand. One of its four charac- 
teristics will be of little assistance. The continued subdivision of 
holdings, farms, or townlands among co-heirs or co-tenants, per- 
haps the most striking feature of runrig, is only occasionally 
perceptible in western England. In general it seems to have 
given way before the more rigid requirements of the English 
manorial system, which preferred that the rent of a holding 
should be paid by relatively few tenants. Nor have we many 
instances to show that the English counties which bordered Scot- 
land or Wales favored a rotation of crops different from that 
which prevailed in the English midlands. In this matter, too, 
non-Celtic influences were early dominant 

The smaller size of Celtic townships is a feature which is re- 
flected in several English counties. Useful as it is, however, 
in tracing Celtic influence, it yields in utility to the last of the 
four characteristics, the arrangement of tenants' parcels in the 
arable fields. Where Celtic influence was felt, the parcek, we shall 
find, were doses, or irregular plats, or arable strips in runrig. 
Closes or plats may be expected to predominate in r^ons situ- 
ated near Wales and seemingly devoted early to pasturage; 
arable and the attendant nmrig may be expected on the Scottish 
border. In no instance will there be a division of the arable into 
two or three large fields with a distribution of the parcels of hold- 
ings between them. Evidence on this point, so far as the terriers 
are concerned, will be largely negative. Only rarely will a 
terrier so dearly locate the strips of a bovate or a virgate as to 
render it probable that these strips were dosdy grouped within 
one part of the arable area of a township and hence not amenable 
to distribution throughout fidds.' Elsewhere we shall have to 
be content with such negative testimony as results from the 
omission, in all available descrq>tions, of those fidd divisions 

» Cf. bek>w, pp. aoS-tio, 155-237, 245* 


which midland terriers more or less frequently contain. Hence it 
will never be possible to say regarding an English coimty, ^' Here 
is clearly the field system of Scotland or Wales or Ireland." We 
shall rather have to conclude: " Its fields lack the positive 
attributes of English midland fields, just as the fields of Celtic 
lands do. In their negative characteristics they are Celtic." 
In so far as this conclusion is convincing, Celtic influence in 
England will have been established. This prefaced, we may 
begin our examination of the field systems of such counties of 
northern and western England as did not fall within the bound- 
aries of the two- and three-field system. Since Scotland intro- 
duced us to the Celtic system, the coimties of the Scottish 
border may occupy us first 


The Influence of the Celtic System in England 


The history of Northumberland open fields was nearly completed 
before the period of parliamentary enclosure. The reporters to 
the Board of Agriculture in 1794 declared that the parts of this 
county " capable of cultivation " were " in general well enclosed 
by live hedges," the only exceptions being " a small part of the 
vales of Breamish, Till, and Glen," where enclosure was then in 
progress. They noted further that lands which were or might 
be cultivated by the plough constituted two-thirds of the coimty, 
an area equal to nearly twice that of Oxfordshire.^ Of acts of 
parliament earlier than 1760 Slater found two relative to North- 
imiberland, enclosing respectively 1300 and 1250 acres of arable; 
of acts later than that date he discovered but six.* Two of the 
latter do not distinguish between arable and common, in three 
others the amoimt of arable to be enclosed is estimated at 380 
acres altogether, while at Corbridge only did the open arable 
field amount to as much as 945 acres.* Parliamentary enclosure 
of common fields in Northumberland after 1760 is practically 

The earlier act^, those of 1740 and 1757, point to the comple- 
tion of an enclosure movement which had been in progress for a 
century and a half. Some information regarding this process 
may be obtained from the monumental History of Nortkumber- 
landy since the contributors, in their accounts of the various par- 
ishes, refer at times to the enclosing of the open fields. North 

* J. Bafley and G. Cullcy, GeiMro/ Vinr of the Agriadhire rfUk CoutUy of Norths 
mmberhmd (London, X7Q4)> P* 5^: ** Lands which are or may be cultivated, 817,200 
acres; mountainous districts improper for tillage, 450,000 acres.'' 

* £iif^A Pfosamiry, p. 294, The two earlier acts rdate to Gunnerton (1740) 
and West Matfen (1757). 

* A Hiskfry of SoriJmmbcrlamd (in progress by the Northumberland County 
History Committee, v<^ i-x. Newcastle, etc., iSq3-x9i4)» x. 143. 



Middleton and Broomley, it appears, remained open until the 
beginning of the ninete^th century, undergoing enclosure in 1805 
and 181 7 respectively.^ To judge from what happened in several 
other townships, however, the movement was most pronounced 
during the seventeenth century and the early eighteenth. Not 
only were the open arable fields of Seaton Delaval already en- 
dosed in 1 610, but articles of agreement looking to the enclosure 
of Cowpen were drawn in 1619, and the process was under 
way at Dilston in 1632.* The tenants at Earsdon signed their 
articles in 1649, the same year in which the re-allotment at Pres- 
ton was completed.' At Backworth the open fields disappeared 
in 1664.* The Ovington and Rennington enclosures, however, 
were delayed until the next century, the former being the work 
of commissioners appointed in 1708, the latter being asked for 
in 1707 but not carried out till 1720 and 1762.* At Newton-by- 
the-Sea and Embleton the open fields disappeared a little later 
still, in 1725 and 1730 respectively.' From such items, insuffi- 
cient as they are, it seems not improbable that the greater part 
of the common arable fields of the county had been enclosed by 
the end of the first quarter of the eighteenth century. If so, 
Northimiberland in its enclosure history resembles Diu'ham, but 
differs markedly from the midlands.^ 

Even in the sixteenth century the transformation of Northum- 
berland fields had begun. At Lesbury, on December 6, 1597, 
the tenants resolved at the manor court that they would, " be- 
tween this and the ist of March next, procure a survey of the 
South field in Lesbury, and that every tenant [should] have his 
land laid in several, and the same to dyke in convenient time after 
the said survey." • Clarkson, who made a survey of the township 
of Tuggal in 1567, intimates that it was largely if not wholly 

^ Archaeohgia Adiana, new series, 1894, zvi. 138; History of Northumberland, 
vi. 143. 

* History of Northumheriand, ix. 201, 325; z. 276. 

* Ibid., viii. 244, n. 3; ix. 4. 
^ Ibid., iz. 40. 

* Archaeologia Adiana, new series, zvi. 129; History of Northumberland, ii. 159. 

* History of Northumberland, ii. 45, 98. 
' Cf. above, p. 107, and Chapter IV. 

* History of Northumberland, ii. 424. 


enclosed. After explaining that it had been " divided at the 
greate suite of the Bradfords, who, havinge the moste palrte of the 
towne in ther hands, wolde not agree with the other tennants in 
ther ancyent orders but with thretnings overpoUed and trobled 
the said tennants in th' occupadon of ther grounde/' he proceeds 
to consider measures " that his lordship may have also the said 
towne planted in the anncyent orders with the same nimiber of 
tenant cottigers, smithe and cotterells, to have ther groundes 
severaUie enclosed by themselves, wherfor they dyd lye in com- 
mon, as well to the great strengthe of the towne as comodetie to 
them all." ^ Thus cautiously were proposals for enclosure ad- 
vanced in the days of Elizabeth. 

Perhaps the best conception of the earlier condition of North- 
xmiberland open fields and of the changes in progress at the end 
of the sixteenth century can be got from documents relative to 
Long Houghton. In this township, which lay on the coast and 
was the property of the duke of Northumberland, a survey was 
undertaken in 1567 to rectify mistakes made in the rearrange- 
ment of a few years earlier. The introduction to the survey 
explains what had been the state of affairs before the rearrange- 
ment '' The arable lande ... [of Houghton Magna] lyeth for 
the moste parte nighe [the] sea syde, and is donged with the sea 
wracke . . . and, because of the greatnes of the said towne, the 
towne is now dividit in two partes, for that they were xxvii 
tenants besyde cotteagers, havynge alwayes and in every place 
every one tenant one rige by [him]sellfe, and so consequentlye, 
from ryge to ryge, that every tenant had one rige, then the first 
did begyn to have his a ryge for his Ipt agayne, and so by rygge 
and ryge it was in every place devidit amonge them to the great 
chardge and laboure of everye one of the said tenants: althoughe 
the same partition did geve to every tenant like quantite of all 
sortes of lande, yet it was so paynefeule to them and ther cattell 
that for the moste parte the said tennants did never manure ther 

1 Farther on he notes that "at the late partic[i]on ... the diuidie landes nowe 
in the tennure of RoUand Foster were layed altogether," and that certain oofts 
cxmtained " zii rigges before the partidon of the towne " {History of Nortkumber^ 
iond, i. 351, 353). 


grounde threwgly, wherby they did fall in great povertie; and 
also ther severall grounde, called their oxen pasture . . . was in 
brea£fe tyme over eatyng and maide baire of fedyng." * 

Such is the picture of an open-field township in which the dis- 
tribution of parcels throughout a large area had become intoler- 
able. To relieve the situation an unusual remedy had been 
devised. A short time before the survey of 1567 the arable 
area bad been divided into a northern and a southern part, and 
the parcels of each husbandland (as a holding was called) had 
been confined to one or the other of these two divisions. To 
accomplish such an alignment parcels had been exchanged but 
not to any extent consolidated, as a later survey of 1614 makes 
clear. One of the fully described furlongs of this last survey, 
called " Bastie lands," is transcribed by the hbtorian of the 
parish. In it each of thirteen husbandlands on the south side 
then had parcels, which usually contained about half an acre 
apiece.* « 

Similar divisions of townships into two parts seem to have been 
not infrequent in Northumberland.* A survey of AckUngton 
made in 1702 shows that one had there been accomplished, divid- 
ing the 17^ farms into 8^ on the north side and 9 on the south 
side.^ At Lesbiiry, which adjoins Long Houghton, a division 
was proposed when the latter township was divided, and the 
matter was put into the bahds of the surveyor who has already 
been quoted. In this case, however, he pronoxmced against the 
division, chiefly on the groxmd that an equally good water supply 
could not be had for both parts. His accoimt begins as follows: 
" It wer not good that this towne wer devyded into thre [farther 

* History of Nortkuffiberland, ii. 368. 

' Ibid., 378. The survey of 1567 was undertaken to adjust minor details. In 
the earlier division the tenants of the north side had got the poorer lands, and 
the boondaiy between the common pasture of the farms on the one side and the 
arable lands of the farms on the other was unsatisfactory. 

* At Rock before 1599, according to a map of that date, there had been a re- 
arrangement of farms as follows (ibid., 128): — 

** BHonghne to 5 F«nntt 00 the North Baroe in anble, nmdoir, and putme, ai4 acrea 

• • 7 • • • touth tide • • • • • 301 ■ 

• " 5 * * • moore aoo • 

• • y • • • moore aSo ■ " 

* Ibid., V. 37a. 


cm he sa)rs " two "] severall townes, althoughe yt )rs a greate 
towne, many tenants and cotteagers, every tenant having his 
lande lyeinge rigge by rigge and not in flatts nor yet in paroells 
of groimde by yt selfe, so that therby the labor of the tenants 
and their cattell ys muche more, to the greate dystruction of the 
said tenants." In verification of this description, a survey of 
1614 tells of a furlong (South Brig haugh) in the West field which 
contained 4 acres, 3 rods, 26 perches, in eighteen strips held by 
fourteen tenants.^ 

If we inquire what field system held together the widely- 
scattered parcels of Long Houghton before the rearrangement 
in the middle of the sixteenth century, the answer must be sought 
in a map of 1619, which is closely associated with the survey of 
1614. Although the township had by this time been divided 
into a northern and a southern half, the boundary between the 
halves crosses what was dearly an older division into fields. 
These fields were three and they were imequ^ in size. Old and 
new arrangements by fields and by halves distributed the xmen- 
closed arable as follows: — 

South field, 99 acres on the North side, 276 acres on the 

South side 
West field, 181 acres on the North side, none on the South 

East field, 242 acres on the North side, 302 acres on the 

South side.* 

Although there is here the suggestion of an early three-field 
arrangement, the inequality in area between the fields is a ques- 
tionable circumstance. Especially great is the discrepancy be- 
tween the 181 acres of the West field and the 544 acres of the 
East field. Furthermore, if the midland division was known and 
after the rearrangement did not lose favor (there is no indication 
that the strips were consolidated or the method of tillage changed 
at the time), it seems strange that within fifty years three new 
fields had not taken form on the north side and three on the south. 
Of such, however, there is no trace in the map of 1619, which 

1 History of Nortkumberkmd, iL 418, 425. * Ibid, map facing p. 368. . 


dings rather to an antiquated division. We are thus led to con- 
clude that no three-field system prevailed at Long Houghton in 
1619, and that the three " fields " of them ap were never really 
such, but only convenient topographical names for different parts 
of the township's arable. 

To get further information regarding the possible existence of 
a three-field system in Northumberland, we turn to other sur- 
veys made in the days of Elizabeth or James I. Many of them, 
accompanied by maps, exist in the archives of the earl of North- 
umberland, but the authors of the coimty history have seldom 
transcribed the information which might be at once decisive. 
They have not, except in one instance, given the distribution of 
the acres of the tenants' holdings throughout the fields, an omis- 
sion which greatly increases the difficulties of the investigator at 
this point.^ 

A notable featiure about several of the maps and schedules 
which describe the townships belonging to the duke is their in- 
sistence upon a division of the arable into three or four fields. 
Roimd the village of Acklington, a map, probably made in 1616, 
shows three fields. North, South, and East, but it gives no areas.' 
The plan of Clarewood and Halton Shields, dating from 1677, 
pictures two groups of three fields but is equally reticent about 
their areas.' On the Tuggal map of about 1620, what remained 
of the fields amoimted to 71 acres in South field, 64 acres in 
Whittridg field, and 118 acres in Hedglaw field.^ At Rock, too, 
according to the map 0^1599, there were '^ remaines " of three 
fields — Earsley field containing 84 acres, Rockley field 70, 
Arksley field 131.' The survey of Bilton, completed in 1614, 
assigns to three fields, also shown on a map of 1624, areas which 
give to South field 176 acres, to East field 138, and to North field 

* UnlbrtuDately, I have been unable to examine the documents at Ahiwick 

' History of Northumberland, v. 376. 

* Ibid., z. 389. Similarly, there is record of three fields, North, Middle, and 
Low, at Ovington, but no information about their re^>ective areas or the appor- 
tionment of the tenants' holdings {Arckaeolopa Aetiana, new series, 1894, zvi. 139). 

^ History of Nortkumbtrland, i. 342. To Whittridg field should probably be 
added 26 acres in Townsend flat and 17 aqres in Glebeland. 
» Ibid., u. Z28. 


216.^ At Rennington, where the fields seem to have suffered 
no diminution from their original size, there were, in 1618, 89 
acres in South field, 248 in West field, 146 in North field, 6 in 
Orchard, and 29 in Barelaw field.* It wiU be noticed that at 
Bilton and Rennington, those townships in which the fields were 
most intact, the areas of the three fields were distinctly unequal. 

Other townships divided their arable into four parts. At 
Shilbottle the fourth part, which was smaller than the others, 
apparently had no close connection with them. It was known 
as " The Fower Farmes called the Head of Shilbotle " and con- 
tained 200 acres; but its foiu: tenants had together only 56 acr^ 
of pasture lying in the other three fields. The latter were known 
as North, Middle, and South, their areas being 347, 268, and 350 
acres respectively.* Were it not for the " Fower Farmes," this 
division would wear somewhat the aspect of a three-field town- 

Elsewhere the four fields bore conventional names, but their 
acres were unequal. The Lesbury fields, which, as we have seen, 
were in 1567 proposed for division, niunbered four in 1614. Of 
these the West field, not shown on a map of ten years later, con- 
tained no acres, while the other three. Northeast field. East field, 
and South field, were much larger, comprising respectively 395, 
246, and 287 acres.^ No combination here would evolve into 
anything like a three-field arrangement except the imion of West 
field with East field, and even this, apart from the situation of 
the two, does not obviate considerable discrepancy. Slightly 
more symmetrical were the fields of South Charlton in 1620. 
Three of them included meadow, and the subdivision gave to 
North field 142 acres of arable and 11 of meadow, to East field 
122} acres of arable, to Middle field 58^ acres of arable and 38 
of meadow, to West field 147 acres of arable and 8^ of meadow.^ 
By combining the arable of East field and Middle field we should 
get a total only greater by about thirty acres than the area of 
each of the other fields, a not impossible three-field arrangement. 
At Lucker the four fields were less amenable to a three-field 

1 History of Nortkumberkmd, 451-453, 456. ' Ibid., 156-157. 

* Ibid., V. 416, 437> 4%M^^^iBIUkHlJf* * Ihid., 307. 


grouping, nor could they well have maintained themselves as 
four fields. Their names, too, were imusual. To Quarrell field 
were assigned 72 acres, to West field 97, to Bank quarter 158, 
and to Gawkland quarter 57.^ Here, as in the maps and ter- 
riers of several other townships, the same phenomena appear. 
Despite what superficially seems to be a simple three- or foiu:- 
field arrangement, the inequality in the apportionment of the 
arable among the fields raises the question whether the subdivi- 
sion has moi^e than topographical significance. 

There is, of course, a simple criterion in such cases, one to 
which resort has often been had. It is the distribution of the 
acres of a holding among the township fields. Only the inade- 
quacy of the transcripts in the otherwise elaborate coimty his- 
tory makes necessary inferences from other data. Yet a few 
terriers of the desirable kind are discoverable. The best refers 
to Rennington, a township in which, as has been noted, the 
West field contained 248 acres, the North field 146, and the 
South field 89. Since the terrier is a part of the survey which 
states these areas, one would expect some correspondence be- 
tween them and the apportionment of the acres of the holding in 
question. Yet scarcely any appears, the terrier assigning to the 
three fields 21, 2, and 10 acres respectively.' West field and 
South field thus receive more than their due, while North field is 
markedly slighted. The terrier of a holding at Elford, made in 

* History 0} NorikumbeHand, i. 234. 

' Ibid., iL 157. The ^>ecifications of " Trestram Phflpson's farme " run as 

follows: — 

Acres Roods Perches 

ANise and garth i a 38! 

Sooth fidd arraUe xo o 97I 

Orchard " o x 8| 

Westfidd • 21 o si 

Northfidd • 8 3 "I 

Barkwefcild * a o o| 

In the West f did meadowe a i xx| 

In Twenty acres x 3 30} 

fnCowdedoae a 3 3> 

In GoiHands Croke poole x 1 x6| 

In the Meadow Dayles x 3 aoi 

In the Orchard Laynmge o a x6| 

Eifht gaytes in the Oxe pastures xg a H 

Some ol acres 74 3 8| 


1 62 1, has similar characteristics. There the arable lay largely 
in three " quarters," North, East, and West, doubtless the prin- 
cipal divisions of the township fields; yet to North quarter 
were assigned 8 acres, slightly more than were given to the other 
quarters together, these receiving respectively 3I and 3^ acres.^ 
From Corbridge come particulars of the distribution of the 
demesne acres among four fields. In West .field were 26 acres, 
in East field 112, in North field 84, and in Little field 25.' 
Since in the detailed list of '' riggs " there is no separation of 
Little field from North field, it is possible that the two were tilled 
as a imit. If so, this composite field becomes as important as 
East field, but the insignificance of West field is only the more 
emphasized. Finally, the terrier descriptive of a holding at 
Great Felton in 1585 is concerned with only an East field and 
a West field. None the less, it fails to divide its acres evenly 
between the two, assigning to one 15 acres and to the other 5.* 
In general, we are thus led to conclude that the acres of a North- 
lunberland holding, whether apportioned to two, three, or four 
fields, were not disposed as they would have been in a normal 
township of the midland area. 

In some Northiunberland terriers of Tudor and Jacobean days 
there is discernible a tendency to group fields along with other 

> History of Northumberland, i. 287. This holding of John Chaundler b thus 
described: — 

Acres Roods Perches 

" The house and sdte o o 30 

Six butts of ufthle Und tyiof among other lands in a croft there 3 i zo 
Fowertene several parcdb of arable land which lie on the North 

Quarter containing 8 o 35 

Thirteen parceUs of arable land bring on the East Quarter ... 3 3 30 

Other parcds in West Quarter 3 a o 

A smaU pared lying in East Meade o o 35 

Another small pared o o so 

3 beaste gates in the Oz Pastures 

Total 18 o a " 

* Ibid., X. 124-130. 

' Ibid.| viL 252. Besides the tenement and a croft containing a half-acre, the 
holding comprised: — 

** 3 doses in the east fidd <rf Fdton . . . together of la acres 
II sdions in the same fidd ' super moores pett ' d a acres 
^ At Chamlcy gappe I acre 

In the west field parceb called ' Botons peace/ ' k lawe' et ' le hedhndes,' together ol 5 aoet 
I dose ol pasture . . . called ' le biricedose ' <rf 8 acres." 


divisions of the arable area. Whether this be the fault of the 
maker of the survey or whether it points to the minor importance 
of fields is difficult to say. A Brotherwick terrier from the sur- 
vey of 1585 suggests the latter explanation.^ Most of the selions 
(excluding those recently held by Thomas Pinne) lay in North 
field or in South field or adjacent to the '^ Lang-rigges/' If all 
those in the list which fall between North field and South field 
be looked upon as lying in North field, the total much over- 
balances the number left for South field. If, on the other hand, 
the two fields stand independently toward the other areas, no 
three-field grouping is apparent, even if " Lang-rigges " be 
exalted into a field. 

A tendency to neglect division by fields in emunerating the par- 
cels of a holding appears in one of the Northimiberland surveys 
which has been printed in full.' The survey is concerned with 
the open fields of two townships, Tynemouth and Preston, but 
it is incomplete. Only such fields as are about to be re-allotted 
receive attention. It is possible that all the unenclosed arable 
at Tynemouth was redistributed, but of this there is no certainty. 
If it was, only two fields, North and South, existed there and 
they were somewhat imequal in area.' The Preston fields are 
confessedly not described in full. Only '' so much as was now 
presented to be divided " appears in the total, which comprised 

* History cf Nortkumberiand, v. 258: — 
16 tdioM ol uftble Und in the North field 
14 touth ol the " LaDf-rigget " 


5 '* super le Lang-riggee " 

10 in the South field 

5 "iuzUk snake hole" 
19 " in the Cfokcs, formerly held by Thomas Pinne ". 

> ** The Terraire or Accompt of Measure of certain Lands lying within the 
Territories of the Mannor of Tlnemouth and Preston, 1649," Arckaeologia AeUana, 
new series, 1887, xii. 173 sq, 

» " Of the Particon of Tinemouth — 

Acres Roods Perches 
The Quantity of the South Feild of Tynemouth i88 i 9 

The Brocks contains 30 a so 

In the North Feild on the upper side of Monkseaton way $\ i 3a 

In the North feild more East from that and more Northerly 806 i 30 " 



183^ acres in North field, 137^ in South field, and 161^ in Miller 
Leazes. This area was re-allotted to five copyhold " fannes," 
each containing 53 acres, but the former relation of these farms 
to the fields is not indicated. Such relationship is stated only 
for certain old freeholds, which are, however, not very satisfac- 
torily described.* In them something is usually allotted to West 
field and to Miller Leazes, but there is considerable obscurity 
about North field; it will be noticed that, of the many rood par- 
cels that were " next the Rake," only one is located in that field. 
For the most part the strips are assigned to such areas as Dikan 
Dubb or the Long Dike, and it is impossible to group them by 
fields. If terriers like these be typical of the Northumberland 
swrvtys which were made in such considerable nimibers prepara- 
tory to the re-allotment of holdings in the early seventeenth cen- 
tury, the surveys either contain little useful information about 
fields or show the acres of the holdings irregularly distributed. 

It may be urged, however, that we are here dealing with rela- 
tively late field arrangements, that in Northumberland the old 
system, whatever it was, had by this time begun to decay. The 
very ease with which a re-allotment of parcels was brought about, 
as at Long Houghton before 1567, testifies, one may say, to the 
laxity of the old ties. Laxity there pretty clearly was, and it 

^ For three of them the detafls run as follows, the areas bemg in roods: — 

Preston Field 

Robert Ottwa/s 
•> Freehold 

Robert Spearman's 

Geone Mfflbum's 

In the West FeOd 

In Shfdiftch 

X, I and a butt, 4, 4, and a banks 

a, I and a bank 

X, X, X, X, X, X, X short headland 

6, 3, 1 

3. X. X, I. a. 4, X 

X headland 
S, I headland 

• • • • 

a • • • 

• • • • 

• • • • 



a, 2 n^gs 

• • • • 

X, X. X, X. X 


x,3. X, X, a 

X. X. X 



X and a meadow Spott 


• • • • 


Att Moor Dike 

At Lone Dike 

X, X and a bank 

Att Dikan Dubb 

Ntxt the Rake 


6 (in the North 

Att Morton Way 

In the watery Reens 


In the miller Leases 

In the Garland meadow. 


In the New Oote 

field), a, X, X, 
X leerifg 

• • • • 

• • • • 

• • • • 


• • • • 

a • • • 



only remains to inquire whether earlier evidence hints at the 
strict observance of more inflexible rules and divisions. 

Numerous terriers of Northumberland holdings earlier than 
the sixteenth century are to be foxmd in the feet of fines and 
in the monastic cartularies, especially in the record of a survey 
of the lands of Hexham abbey. All these documents agree in 
showing the prevalence of intermixed strips,^ which were often 
no more than one-fourth of an acre in size. They agree further 
in seldom referring to fields, and are almost unanimous in never 
dividing the strips of a holding between two, three, or four fields. 
The parcels in question are assigned to divisions which in a midland 
area woidd have been called furlongs, shots, or quarentines, but 
in Northumberland were usually designated rigs, dales, flats, laws, 
and occasionally even fields. A terrier of 1479, which describes a 
husbandland containing 27 acres of arable attached to a tenement 
at ChoUerton, illustrates most of these peculiarities.* It is 

^ At " Mulefen " the 12 acres which accompanied a messuage lay in 11 parceb; 
at " Copum " two tofts were transferred along with 15 acres in 8 parcels; at 
*' Berewik et Bitewurth " 10 acres were divided into 6 parcels (Ped. Fin., 180-3-22, 
II Hen. ni; 180-4-61, 19 Hen. Ill; 180-5-107, 30 Hen. III). Two deeds trans- 
ferring 7 and 12 acres at " Thrasterston " enumerate 7 and 16 parcels respectively 
(Ckartuiary of Bfinkbwm Priory ^ Surtees Soc, 1893, pp. 43i 45) • At Thockrington, 
about 1280, 20 acres of arable lay in 33 small parcels {History of Norikumber' 
landf iv. 401). 

* James Raine, The Priory of Hexham (Surtees Soc., 2 vols., 1864-65), ii. 30. 
The description runs as follows: — 

" Et idem [Hugo CobUne] tenet zzvii acras terrae arabilis pertinentes tenemento praedkto, 
quanim ii acrae et dimidia acra ex parte austraU rivulae de Eriane . . . 
Et super le Kilnflatf ez parte ocddentali dimidia acra 

* * Hwslawspule dimidia acra Scbothalghbankys 

* * Nithre dimidia acra 

' ' Ovenchotlaubankcs dimidia acra 
' * le Blaklaw ez parte orientali ejusdem dimidia acra 
Et ez parte ocddentaU ejusdem i acra 

* * " orientali le L<ms . . . ane i roda 
' ' * orientali Bronslauemedoue i roda 

Et super Bronslawflate ez parte ocddentali dimidia acra 
Et ez parte boriali Bnmslawmedoue buttando super eodem iii rodae 
Et super le Canonflatte . . . i acra et dimidia 
" ' * les buttes iuzta le dyk . . . dimidia acra 

* * ' lez hevedlandes de Brouneslawflatte . . . i roda 
Et ad capud del Maynflatt . . . dimidia acra 

Et ez parte australi le Crosse . . . i roda 

Et super Holmersbank . . . dimidia acra 

Et in Harlawhop buttando super le Messeway dimidia acra * 

Et ez parte ocddentali iuzta le Harlaw dimidia acra 


closely followed by a similar terrier describing a holding of 28 
acres, the parcels of which are located with the same explidtness 
in the same field divisions.^ Apparently the husbandlands of a 
Northumberland township in the fifteenth century shared in all 
furlongs after the manner described at Long Houghton a century 
later,* and this without reference to any three-field arrangement. 
In contrast with the rather impressive bulk of negative evi- 
dence in the early terriers pointing to the non-existence of the 
midland system in Northxmiberland, a few items seemingly sug- 
gestive of it deserve notice. In a terrier of a balf-carucate at 
Whalton the 52^ acres "in campo ejusdem villae" are described 
in such order that, if the first two items be added together, four 
thirteen-acre.groups result. It is noteworthy, however, that the 
name of only one field appears, that the half-carucate consisted 
of five relatively large blocks of land rather than of scattered 
strips, and above all that four of these blocks lay to the west of 
the village, two of them being carefully located in the West field.* 

£t super k Mesiway super eandem i roda 

Et ex parte orientali le lonjmghed i roda 

Et super Aldchestre ex parte austral! iii rodae 

Et ex parte occkkntali super le Stobitbora i roda 

Et super Mordaw ex parte orientali ejusdem . . . dimidia acra 

Et ex parte boriali de Dueldrigge dimidia acra 

" * ' orientali le Smythehopaide dimidia acra 
Et in medio Craustrige dimidia acra 
Et ex parte orientali de Westraustrige i acra 
Et super Estraustrige ex parte occidentali i roda 
Et ex parte orientali Fartirmerethome . . . i acra 

' * ' australi terrae praedictae i roda 
Et inter Faltermere et lex Merlpottes i acra 
Et ex parte boriali lez Merlpottes i roda 
Et in medio Waynrig iii rodae 
Et ex parte orientali le Brereryg i roda 

* * ' orientali lez Hudesrodes i acra 
Et inter lex Komhilles i roda 
Et in medio le Milnrig dimidia acra 
Et super Fulrig iii rodae 
Et in Sw3mbume-feld ex parte boriali le crosse i acra." 

" Raine, Priofy of Hexham, ii. 32. 
* Cf. above, p. 208. 

» Raine, Priory of Hexham, ii. 39. The description runs as follows: — 

'* Tenent etiam in campo ejusdem vOIae dimidiam carucatam terrae, vis., IH acrat terrae 
et dimidiam, quarum 
Super Lindeslawe ex parte ocddentali ejusdem villae iacent iiii acrae 
Et super le Flores ex parte occidentali prope dictas acras ix acrae 
Et in k Westfeld inter Walwyk et LeverchOd xiii acrae vocatae k Burnflatt 
Ex parte australi mokndini ibidem xiii acrae 
Et super le Famelaw ex parte orientali viUae ejusdem xiB acrae." 


These circumstances scarcely accord with midland arrangements. 
No more do the names and the allotment of acres in another 
thirteenth-centiiry terrier, dated 30 Henry III.^ Of the twelve 
acres which, according to this, accompanied a toft and were 
subtracted from four bovates at Billingworth, 4i are referred to 
East field; but the assignment of 2\ to a field called Hypelawe 
and of 5 J to a field called Horchestres-and-Bereacres destroys 
the synmietry of any three-field arrangement, quite apart from 
the fact that the names are unusual. 

Three early charters hint at two-field usages but without giv- 
ing definite assurance. At Whittonstall six acres were in the 
thirteenth century described as " duas in tofto et crofto . . ., et 
in campo apud orientem iuxta spinam dimidiam acram, et iuxta 
viam . . . dimidiam acram, et in campo versus occidentem 
iii acras." * A division which thus gives to the East field one 
acre and to the West field three acres is corrected in a Cramling- 
ton grant of the twelfth century, according to which thirty acres 
were so situated that there were " xv in ima parte villae et xv 
in alia "; * still, these vague localities are not fields. An early 
grant which does locate its dales in two fields transfers 14} acres 
at Leighton, describing them as follows: — 

'^ In campo occidentali totas illas duas mikel dales et totas 
illas duas fair dales, quas Syiiuardus et Robertus filii Stephani 
tenuerunt, cum toto prato in transverso marisci 
et totam Thimdale Roberti cum prato 
et totam Halledale Syiiuardi ciun prato 
et in campo orientali totas illas duas Horthawedales 
quas praedicd homines tenuerunt 
et ii dales totas in Prestesflat quas Thomas de Clenil 
tenuit. ..." * 

1 '' Quatuor acras et imam rodam que iacent in campo qui vocatur Estfeld . . . 
duas acras et dimidiam que iacent in campo qui vocatur Hypelawe . . . quinque 
acras et unam rodam que iacent in campo qui vocatur Horchestres et Bereacres " 
(Ped. Fin., 180-5-113). 

' History of Northumberland^ vi. 182, n. 3. 

* Ibid., ii. 226 n. 

* [J. T. Fowler], Chartutarium Abbatkiae de Novo Monasterio (Surtees Soc., 
X878), p. 85. 


Two fields are here, but the chronic irregularity of division is 
also present, especially so far as the lands of Syuuardus and 
Robert are concerned. Thus the early two-field evidence for 
the county is hardly more satisfactory than the three-field 
evidence has proved. 

From all the Northxmiberland testimony relative to fields only 
one item points clearly to three-field husbandry. This occurs in 
an accoimt, written in or about the year 1596, of the expulsion 
by Robert Delavale, Esq., of the tenants of Hartley and Seaton 
Delaval, two townships near Newcastle-upon-Tyne.^ In both, 
it is stated, each dispossessed tenant had been able to till '* 60 
acres of arable land, 20 in every feild." Such even division of 
holdings among three fields is something hitherto not met with 
in the Northumberland evidence, and seems at first sight to con- 
stitute straightforward and convincing testimony that a three- 
field system existed in the county. Before this conclusion is 
admitted, however, the seemingly decisive passage should be 
more closely examined to see whether it admits of any other 

In the first place, the assignment to these townships of hus- 
bandlands precisely similar in size and divided in precisely the 
same manner suggests that the writer, whose subject was in no 
way related to field systems, was mentioning the tenants' hold- 
ings only incidentally and in a very general manner. Even in 
the most typical of midland townships the acres of the copyholds 
were not divided with this precision among the fields. If we 
ask for more specific evidence about the subdivision of a copy- 
hold at Hartley or at Seaton Delaval, we find that the editor of 
the coimty history has been obliged to make inferences in the 
one terrier of which he gives an accoimt. At Hartley, \^lliam 
Taylor had, it appears, 105 acres which lay in three groups of 
shots or fiu'longs. One group was assigned to the South &eld 
and one to the North field, but either the third group was not 
assigned to any field or the attribution is missing through injury 
to the manuscript* Although the editor conjectures that a 
West field was in question, he gives no reason for his belief, nor 

^ Eist^ry rf NmikmmhtfUmiy is. 114, loi. * Ibid., las. 


does he make note, as he so easily might have done, of the areas 
of the parcels which fell within each group. Even at Hartley, 
therefore, we are left with something of the imcertainty which 
has thus far attended Northumberland maps, terriers, and 

A better reason than this ambiguity, however, for thinking 
that the Hartley and Seaton Delaval statements do not unques- 
tionably imply the existence of a three-field system is the possi- 
bility that the author, speaking as it were parenthetically, may 
have been referring to a three-course rotation of crops. This 
method of tillage, as is explained below, might appear where the 
open-field furlongs were not groui>ed into three compact fields.^ 
From occasional items there is reason to think that in Northum- 
berland a three-course rotation was employed, at least upon de- 
mesne lands. Nine large consolidated parcels at Hextold were 
in 1232 so tilled that 51^ acres were sown with wheat and rye, 
78 with oats, and 50 were " de terra wareccanda." * Although 
the division here into three parts was not precise, it was approxi- 
mate. Regarding other demesne lands no \iricertainty exists, 
and it is furthermore obvious that they might lie in common. 
At Hepscott, for instance, an inquisition describes 88 acres of 
demesne " de quibus tertia pars iacet in warecto et pastura 
eiusdem warecti nihil valet per annum quia iacet in conmiimi." ' 
Though we have no corresponding information regarding the 
rotation of crops which was usual upon tenants' land, it may well 
have been at times a three-course one. K so, the Hartley and 
Seaton Delaval statements perhaps refer to such a situation, 
and the term " field " is used carelessly in place of the more 
exact " seisona." 

If this seem an over-refinement of explanation, and if it be 
urged that a three-course rotation upon tenants' lands was not far 
removed from a three-field system,* the extent of the negative 
evidence from Northumberland must once more be insisted upon. 
Similar avoidance of three-field indications b not characteristic 

* Cf. bdow, pp. 321-325. • Raine, Priory ofHtxkam, ii. 96. 
» C. Inq. p. Mort., Edw. Ill, F. 2 (17). 

* The difference was, however, pronounced. Cf. belpw, pp. 321-325. 


of the testimony from a midland coimty. Even if it be admitted 
that a three-field system at times appeared in Northumberland, 
it seems equally clear that an alien influence early made itself 
felt and differentiated the county from its southern neighbors. 
A ready conjecture would designate such an influence as Celtic, 
and evidence supporting the surmise is not wanting. 

One aspect of this evidence is the character of the terms used 
in describing Northumberland open-field strips and field divisions. 
At Long Houghton the parcels lay " rigge by rigge," ^ and some 
terriers enumerate " riggs " without giving areas.* , The descrip- 
tion, further, of a husbandland at Chollerton, which has been 
already quoted, shows how frequently the names of the furlongs 
ended in " rig." * This nomenclature was, of course, the sub- 
structure of Scottish runrig. 

More decisive, however, than terminology is the appearance 
in Northumberland of the Scottish method of tillage. A descrip- 
tion of this in 1599 refers to what was perhaps at that time the 
persistence of an antiquated usage, but it is particularly instruc- 
tive as indicating the character of primitive husbandry in the 
county. It occurs in an account of the queen's demesne lands 
at Cowpen, but relates as well to the lands of freeholders and 
lessees: — 

" At the layenge forth of any decayed or wasted come feilde, 
and takinge in any new feildes of the conmion wastes in liewe 
thereof, everie tenaunte was and is to have so much lande in 
everie new fielde as everie of them layde forth in everie wasted 
or decayed come feilde, or accordinge to the rents of everie 
tenaunte's tenement in such place and places as did befall everie 
of them by their lott; and so hath everie of the queue's tenauntes 
within the towne of Cowpon aforesaide, as well leassors, ten- 
naimts at will, as freeholders, contynewed the occupation of all 
their arable lands by partinge by lott as aforesaide; and that 
after the layenge oute of everie wasted come feilde within the 

* Cf. above, p. 208. 

* For example, the terrier of the demesne lands at Corbridge {History of North' 
umberlandf x. 124). 

* Cf. above, p. 2J7. 


feldes and territories of Cowpon aforesaide, everie so wasted and 
layde oute come felde nowe is and ever was reputed and used as 
the quene's common wastes there are, until the same lately layde 
oute come feildes or ^y of them be by generall consente of 
neighbours taken in, parted, and converted to arable lande or 
medowe again; . . . [many tenants] affirme they alwayes so 
had used and enjoyed the same parted landes tyme out of mynde 
of man." * 

This description might well apply to the Scottish outfield, 
described at length in the preceding chapter. In Northumber- 
land, as in eighteenth-century Scotland, large parcels of land 
were temporarily reclaimed from the waste, reduced to tillage 
for a series of years, and then allowed to revert to waste again 
imtil they had in a measure recovered their fertility. In a 
newly-improved area each tenant had a share similar to that 
which he had had in the " decayed come feilde " simultaneously 
" layde forth " or abandoned. Just how this procedure went 
on is illustrated by the following provision of a Corbridge 
court roll of 1594: "Item it is agreed at this courte for the 
devideinge of the land in Dawpathe, that betwen this and the 
next fawghe it shalbe equallie parted by the consience of xii 
men." * Apparently the re-allotment of a furlong about to be 
brought once more under cultivation was entrusted to a com- 
mittee of villagers. Such a method of tillage accounts for the 
dispersion of a tenant's strips and explains the persistence of 
such dispersion. 

Of immediate interest, however, is the probable relation of 
this practice to a three-field arrangement. Unless the arable 
area of a Northumberland township is to be thought of as en- 
tirely surroxmded by a tract of waste, the permanent division of 
the arable into three equal compact parts is difficult to imagine 
in connection with the type of cultivation just described. As- 
sume, for instance, a three-field arrangement of the arable, with 
the waste l3Hng in one part of the township — an arrangement 
usual in the midlands. Assume further that a fiurlong was to be 

decayed," or allowed to drop out of cultivation. If this furlong 

^ History of Nortkumberlandf ix« 334. ' Ibid., z. 970. 



were adjacent to the waste, it might be replaced by another 
contiguous to the field in such way that the integrity of the 
latter would in a measure be maintained. But if the furlong 
lay in a field remote from the waste, how could it be replaced 
without destroying the compactness of the field in question ? 
Furthermore, the abandonment of furlongs wUfdn the arable 
area would under any circumstances make impossible the per- 
sistence of compact arable fields. Any field would alwa)rs con- 
tain " decayed " areas, and the term " field " could at best be 
applied only to one-third of the entire area of the township, 
composed in turn of certain furlongs under oiltivation and of 
others abandoned for a series of years. Since such a field would 
be very different in appearance and in mode of tillage from a 
midland field — would, in short, be a " seisona " — there is no 
reason why the term " field " should have been used in North- 
umberland with its midland significance. Its non-appearance in 
the documents, or its use in them merely to indicate topograph- 
ically a part of the township or to designate one of the furlongs, 
at once becomes explicable. The infrequent use of the term 
in early charters, furthermore, is a guarantee that the field 
arrangements of the midlands did not extend to Northumber- 

That a sj^tem of Celtic type long persisted in the county is 
apparent from certain evidence offered before chancery in a suit 
relative to lands in North Middleton as they were prior to 
their enclosure in 1805. The fourteen ancient farms, which 
comprised about 1 100 acres of arable, meadow, and pasture, were 
thus described: " These farms are not divided or set out, the 
whole township lying in common and undivided. . . . The 
general rule of cultivating and managing the lands within the 
township has been for the proprietors or the tenants to meet 
together and determine how much and what particular parts of 
the lands shall be in tillage, how much and what parts in 
meadow, and how much and what parts in pasture, and they 
then divide and set out the tillage and meadow lands amongst 
themselves in proportion to the niunber of farms or parts of farms 
which they are respectively entitled to within the township, and 


the pasture lands are stinted in the proportion of 20 stints to 
each farm." ^ Although by the nineteenth century the bound- 
aries between arable, meadow, and pasture may have become 
more flexible than they were at an earlier time, there can be little 
doubt that the method of allotment here described was a survival 
of the principle that all land newly taken under cultivation should 
be equitably apportioned among the husbandlands. 

If it be impossible to look upon Northmnberland tillage as 
identical with that of the midlands, there is, on the other hand, 
no difficulty in seeing how it could transform itself into the latter 
with ease. Were the cultivation of the arable in any township 
to become more intensive, the period of years during which a 
furlong could be allowed to revert to waste would have to be 
decreased. The ratio might become two years of productivity 
to one of fallow; ^ with such a rotation once adopted, only the 
laying together of the fallow furlongs would be wanting to make 
the system one of three compact fields. If it may be assumed that 
this- step was at times taken before or during the sixteenth cen- 
tury, some of the questionable indications of a three-field sj^tem 
which have been dted in this chapter are perh24>s entirely authen- 
tic. At least there is opportunity, if any one thinks the evidence 
sufficient, for attributing to Harley and Seaton Delaval the 
practice of three-field agriculttire.' 

Viewed in all its relations, Northumberland thus becomes a 
transitional county, having affiliations on the one hand with 
Scotland, on the other with the midlands. Despite the nominal 
division of the arable of its townships into fields, a division some- 
times apparent in maps and terriers, the absence of an equal 
apportionment of the acres of the holdings among these fields 
has led us to doubt the midland character of the latter. Apart 

^ Arckaedogia Adiana^ new series, 1894, zvi. 138. 

' Seebohm, in his latest book, remarks that the co-aration of the waste described 
in the Wdsh laws of the tenth century '' is an embryo form of the more advanced 
open field S3r8tem of the settled agricultural village community. It is only 
necessary," he cdtatinues, " to extend the com crop over a wider area and to subject 
the strips to a permanent rotation of crops, and the result would be holdings with 
scattered and intermixed strips and the vaine pdture over the stubble " {Cusiomary 
Acres and their Historical Importance^ London, 1914, p. 6). 

* Cf. above, pp. 3ao-3ai. 


from this negative testimony to the absence of a two-, three-, or 
four-field system within the coimty, the nomenclature employed 
relative to fields and the method of fallowing strongly suggest a 
Scottish connection. Entirely Scottish was the temporary im- 
provement of tracts of waste land, followed in turn by the aban- 
donment of them to their original state. 

Scarcely have Celtic characteristics been discerned, however, 
before Northumberland fields are seen to have been cultivated 
in a manner which was not precisely that employed in Scotland 
at the end of the eighteenth century. It is not dear, first of all, 
that there was a permanent infield, and still less is it dear that 
there was continuous tillage of any part of the arable which would 
make possible such an infidd. All cultivable land seems to have 
been treated in the same manner — tilled, probably, xmder the 
rotation of two crops and a faUow.. At times a new furlong was 
improved from the waste, subjected to the usual cultivation for 
a series of years, and then allowed to revert to waste as another 
furlong was substituted for it. In Scotland, give-and-take of 
this sort was limited to the outfidd; in Northumberland, it seems 
to have been applicable to all lands which at any time were 
brought under the plough. 

Another way in which a township of Northumberland differed 
markedly from one of Scotland was in its size. The surveyor of 
Long Houghton remarked upon ^' the greatnes of the said 
towne " ; ^ subsidy lists frequently point to the existence of a not 
inconsiderable number of tenants; * sixteenth- and seventeenth- 
century plans usually show a single large settlement within a 
large township area;' and, finally, the modem map reveals 
Northumberland as a county of villages rather than one of ham- 
lets. In Scotland, on the other hand, the townships, as we have 
seen, were usually small and the settlements in general had 
not a half-dozen houses. Northumberland, so far as concerns 
the area of its townships, was allied with the English midlands 
rather than with its northern ndghbor. 

* Cf. above, p. 208. 

« Sec, for example, History <tf Nortkumherland^ u. 236, 365, 414, 47a. 

* For examplr, ibid., 368, 413, 45a. 


Such are some of the reasons for lookmg upon the county as 
a region which in regard to its settlement and field system was 
transitional between the Celtic and midland areas. Originally 
perhaps, except for the size of its townships, it inclined to be 
Celtic, but as cultivation of the soil became more intensive the 
three-field s)rstem practiced toward the south may have been 
in a measiure adopted. Scarcely, however, had this taken place 
when the process of enclosure began, and with more rapidity than 
in the midlands the history of open fields in Northumberland 
came to an end. 


In the period of parliamentary enclosure few open arable fields, 
it seems, remained in Cumberland. Slater cites only five acts 
which mention them, and of these but two specify the acreage.* 
The reporters to the Board of Agriculture in 1794 subdivided the 
county into 350,000 acres of lakes and mountains, 150,000 of 
improvable common, and 470,000 of old enclosures, making no 
rubric for open arable fields.* These last had, however, been 
existent a half-century earlier. Eden, writing in 1794-96, de- 
clared that in each of six parishes tracts of cultivated conmion 
field ranging in area from 100 to 3000 acres had been enclosed 
within the preceding fifty years.' In the case of four parishes 
he added brief descriptions. At Croglin, he wrote, " a great 
part of the arable land still remains in narrow crooked dales, or 
ranes "; at Cumrew " the grass ridges in the fields are from 20 
to 40 feet wide, and some of them 1000 feet in length " ; the 
greater part of Castle Carrock " remains in dales, or doles . . . 
which are slips of cultivated land belonging to different pro- 
prietors, separated from each other by ridges of grass land " ; 
the cultivated land of Warwick " formerly, although divided, 
lay in long slips, or narrow dales, separated from each other by 
ranes, or narrow ridges of land, which are left unplowed." * 

^ Twenty acres at Torpenton and 340 at Greystock {English Peasantry ^ p. 256). 

* J. Bailey and G. Culley, General View of the Agriculture of the County of Cum- 
berland (London, 1794), p. 9. 

» Sir F. M. Eden, The StaU of the Poor (3 vols., London, 1797), ii. 45-93. The 
parishes were Ainstable, 400 acres; Castle Carrock, 100; Croglin, 100; Gilcruz, 
400; Warwick, c. iioo; Wetheral, 3000. / Ibid., 65, 67, 68, 93. 


Glebe terriers drawn up a century earlier (about 1704) illus- 
trate at length these descriptions.^ Sometimes the parcels of 
the glebe were not numerous and comprised but few acres. At 
Addingham there were 7I acres in five parcels, at Hayton 6^ 
acres in four parcels, at Castle Carrock 7} acres in seven parcels. 
Elsewhere parcels were more numerous and the total areas 
greater. At Hutton-in-the-Forest twelve parcels contained i8i 
acres; at Melmerby (besides 12 acres enclosed) twenty-two par- 
cels contained 14 acres; at Skelton thirty-one parcels contained 
32 acres. Typical of these terriers, and instructive as to the 
size of the strips, the subdivision of them into riggs, and the 
names of the open-field areas in which they lay intermixed, is 
the description of the glebe at Orton.* Apart from parcels of 
moss and rights of pasture over the moors, the parson had sixty- 
three riggs and one butt of arable, with various small pieces of 
meadow at the ends of these and certain raines or strips of turf 

^ See Cumb. and Westm. Antiq. and Arcliaeol Soc, Trams,, new aeries, 1910, 

z. 13459. 

* n>id., 1893, xii. 137 (also new series, 1910, x. 124). The specifications run 

as fc^ows: — 

''In the West 6dd in the Craft II RiggB with m Head Rifg, sacra rrhis pucd and each 

foUowing one a bounded.] 
In Low Croft or East Roods 4 Riggs with a Raine between them and a piece of 

Meadow at the North End, i acre 
In the West Roods 4 Riggs, one acre . . . with a rigg of John Robinson's between them 
At the Croft Head two laige Riggs . . . i acre 
At the Panon*s Thorn two long Riggs, one acre . . . 

In Croasland two Riggs, i acre . . . with a piece of Meadow at the Sooth end . . . 
In the Shaws three Riggs, one acre with a piece of Meadow at the low end . . . 
In the Organ Butts two small Riggs, half an acre . . . 

In Inglands two Riggs, one acre with a small piece of Meadow at the low end . . . 
In Sheep Coats two Riggs, one acre with a broad Raine between them and a piece of 

Meadow at the low end . . . 
In Crabtreedale two Riggs, one acre with a piece of Meadow at the low end of them . . . 
In Grayston Butts two Riggs, half an acre . . . 
More in Grayston Butts two Riggs, half an acre . . . 
In the Shaws more two Riggs, half an acre . . . 

Glebe in Orton Rigg Field. In ye West end four Riggs, half an acre . . . 
At the Panon's Lees eight Riggs . . ., two acres with a Dajrwork of Meadow at the 

North end 
Glebe in Woodhouses Field 
In BredidL two R^gs, half an acre . . . 
Underbricks, a butt . . . 

Upon the Bank or Priest bosh three Riggs with a piece of Meadow at the North end . . . 
In the East Field four Riggs, three roods with a piece of Meadow at the North end . . . 
In Great Orton Mosa a large pared of Moss 
In the Flatt Moss another great pared of Moss 
Common of Pasture for all the Panon*s cattle with four Dayswork of Turf upon all 

the Moors of Oiton within the Parish." 


between them. The riggs lay in twenty divisions of the field 
and contained about 19 acres, from two to four riggs constituting 
an acre. Four fields are mentioned, but they take their places 
along with such curiously-named areas as '' the Shaws " and 
" Underbricks." No grouping of strips by fields is perceptible. 

Descriptions like these at once establish the former existence 
of open-field intermixed strips in Cmnberland. The period at 
which they were consolidated and enclosed cannot be here in* 
vestigated. Slater accepts Wordsworth's conjecture that a 
movement in this direction was not '' general imtil long after the 
pacification of the Borders by the union of the two crowns." ^ 
What is without doubt is that in 1665 the estimated areas of 
certain townships, apart from common pasture, could be de- 
scribed as " Inclosed Ground — meadow, pasture, and arable." 
In this list are assigned to '' the Lawnde or dose of Heskett " 
2500 such enclosed acres, to the hamlets of Serbergham and 
Scotby 750 and 700, to Gamblesby 1870.* Early in the reign of 
James I the twenty-five tenants at Plumpton Park had enclosed 
their holdings, save that five had an interest in Le Haythome- 
fields." * By the middle of the seventeenth century enclosed 
townships were therefore easy to find. 

Leaving aside the date of enclosure, we may refer at once to 
Tudor and Jacobean survej^ in order to determine, if possible, 
what was the nature of Cumberland open fields. Sometimes, 
it appears, aU holdings were in meadow, as in the mountain town- 
ship of Matterdale;^ again, as at Cokermouth, we learn that 
there were arable acres '^ in communibus campis," but we learn 
no more.* Elsewhere, however, certain features that seem to 
have been characteristic of the field sj^tem of the county are 
discernible, and of these the first is the grouping of rather small 
fields round correspondingly small hamlets. 

In determining the areas of townships we are likely to be mis- 
led if, retaining the midland point of view, we give attention 

^ En^isk Peasankyt p. 258. 

> Land Rev., M. B. 358, £f. 64-65. Hesket was one of Eden's open townships, 
but there is a High Hesket and a Low Hesket. 
* Land Rev., M. B. 213, ft. i-io. 
« Land Rev., M. B. aia, f. 370. * Exch. K. R.,'M. B. 37, ff. 4-S. 


merely to the area assigned to a Cumberland manor. In the 
midlands, manor and township tended to coincide, the latter 
being relatively large and comprising a single settlement also 
relatively large. A different situation has come to light in 
Herefordshire. There a manor comprised several townships, 
each containing a small settlement, more properly a hamlet than 
a village. Cumberland units were like those of Herefordshire: 
the manor was composite, the townships were small, the settle- 
ments were hamlets. 

No survey shows these features better than one of Holme 
Cultram, made in 2 James I.^ At that time this old monastic 
manor was divided into four quarters, called Abbey, St. Cuth- 
bert's, Loweholme, and Eastwaver. The tenants of each of the 
four are mentioned in alphabetical order, and their holdings are 
located, with statement of areas. The names used in locating 
holdings turn out upon examination to be those, not of fields, 
but of several contiguous hamlets which lie to the west of the 
village of Holme Cultram. A summary for the Abbey quarter 
is as follows: — 

Name of Hamkt Numbtt ol Tenants Total Area ilk Acrca 

Swinestie 10 116 

Sowter field 15 184 

Aldeth 9 96J 

High Loese 13 1291 

Abbie Cowpcr 13 203 

Sanden House 13 i68i 

Browne Riggs 6 220 

The quarter, which itself was only the fourth part of the manor, thus 
broke in turn into seven townships, the largest comprising only 
220 acres. Since the holdings are described as " arable, meadow, 
and pasture," a part of each township mxist be set aside as non- 
arable. We thus have an agrarian situation in which the units 
of settlement comprised not more than fifteen tenants and the 
arable area contained usually less than 150 acres. 

Not dissimilar were the hamlets and fields of the manor of 
Hayton. A map and schedule of 1710 describe the " infields " 
as comprising 1478 acres, the conmion or waste 3178 acres. 

* Land Rev., M. B. 212, flf. 307-389. 


Within the infields, according to the map, were six hamlets — 
Hayton, Fenton, Edmond Castle, How, Faugh, Headsnook. 
Hayton and Fenton gave their names to quarters which con- 
tained respectively 440 and 528 acres, the one being occupied 
by forty-five " toftsmen," the other by forty-three. A quarter 
probably embraced the lands of more than one hamlet; for, even 
if it is not dear that Edmond Castle was included in Hayton 
quarter, there can at least be no doubt that How fell within 
Fenton quarter. The improved land of either How or Fenton 
must therefore have comprised about 200 or 300 acres, an area 
somewhat larger than that of the Holme Cultram hamlet-fields.^ 

The size of other Cmnberland townships may be discovered in 
a survey of 1608 which relates to the " Castle Soake and De- 
maines of Carlisle." * Enough of the place-names can be identi- 
fied on the modem map to make it dear that locations are by 
hamlets. The " Standwicks freehold," to which are assigned 
fourteen free tenants and 153 acres, was no other than the 
township of Stanwix, a hamlet just across the river from the 
Castle. The fields of Currock, Blackwell, Upperby, and " St. 
Nicholas Hill " are grouped together. In them sixteen free 
tenants had 192 acres and nine customary tenants 99 acres, 
about one-fourth of the total area being meadow and pasture. 
Other hamlets were Almery Holme with twenty-one tenants in 
possession of 51 acres, and Wery Holme with thirty-one tenants 
possessed of 130 acres. The fields of no hamlet in the survey 
contained so many as 300 acres, and usually a far smaller number. 
This illustration, together with the two preceding ones, may 
suffice to determine our conception of Cumberland settlement. 
We must think of the county as peopled by groups of from five 
to thirty tenants dwelling in hamlets round which the arable 
fidds were seldom 300 acres in extent, and often not above 50 or 
100 acres. 

From this first characteristic of Cumberland fields we pass to 
a second — the distinction occasionally noted between infield 

^ Cumb. and Westm. Antiq. and ArchaeoL Soc., Trans,, new series, 1907, vii. 
42 sq. 

* Land Rev., M. B. 212, £f. 129-158. 


and outfield. In the Hayton map of 1710 already referred to 
the arable is designated '' infields " in contrast with the encir- 
cling waste. More striking is the name given to one of the 
hamlets of the manor. On the edge of the infield next the 
common was a tiny settlement called Faugh, and elsewhere on 
the map of Cumberland the same place-name is to be found.^ 
It is, of course, the term which in Scotland was applied to that 
part of the outfield brought under occasional cultivation. Hie 
situation of Faugh on the Hayton map at a point where infield 
and outfield meet suggests a settlement due to the permanent 
improvement of the waste. In other Cumberland documents 
we learn further that a holding might consist of specific amounts 
of both infield and outfield. In a survey of Fingland made in 
36 Elizabeth each of the eight tenants had '' 16 acre terre arabilis 
in Infield et 10 acre terre arabilis in Outfield." * That the out- 
field was arable and was allotted in specified amounts implies an 
improvement of the waste before the end of the sixteenth cen- 
tury. .» This confirms our conjecture as to how the hamlet of 
Faugh may have arisen, and suggests that the situation which 
was characteristic of eighteenth-century Scotland was a transi- 
tional one in sixteenth-century Cumberland. 

Further light is thrown upon the appropriation of the outfield 
by two surveys of Soulby, a hamlet of the manor of Dacre.* 
In 9 Elizabeth Soulby was occupied by ten tenants, each of 
whom had a messuage with from five to seven acres of arable and 
meadow adjacent thereto. Besides this, there was assigned to 
each one acre of meadow " apud Bradhoomyre," two acres of 
arable " apud le Tofts," two of pasture "in Sourelands," and two 
of pasture " apud Fluscoo." In another survey of some forty 
years later the pasture in Sourelands and Fluscoo had become 
arable or arable-and-meadow, while a fifth area, called Woodend 
and Crakowe, had appeared.^ In this last area each tenant had 
2\ acres of pasture or of past\u:e-and-arable. The two surveys sug- 
gest that there were appurtenant to the tenements at Soulby four 

^ For example, a hamlet of Ainitable is called Faui^ Heads. 

* Land Rev., M. B. 21a, fif. 81 59. 

> Land Rev., M. B. 213, fif. 26-agfr. * Ibid.^ ff. 47^48. 


or five large parcels of the outfield or waste, each of which had 
been divided with precision among them and thenceforth appeared 
in the surveys, sometimes as pasture, sometimes as arable. Such 
a description, of coiu*se, applies rather well to certain furlongs 
of a Northmnberland township, but even more accurately to the 
Scottish " folds *' or " faughs," those divisions of the outfield 
which were brought under crops for a niunber of years and then 
allowed to revert to pasture for a corresponding period of time. 
It should be added that both Soulby and Fingland were small 
townships, each containing less than two hundred acres and each 
having not more than ten tenants. 

A field situation not unlike that perceptible in these townships 
is described in a somewhat confused Elizabethan survey of 
Lazonby.^ Besides noting the acre or two adjacent to each 
tenement, it recoxmts a large number of field names — more than 
fifty. Since half of them are mentioned in connection with only 
one tenement apiece and are applied to but small areas, they 
must have referred to parcels of land in the possession of single 
tenants. Fifteen other field names recur two or three times, 
and in these areas, which seldom contained so many as five 
acres, two or three tenants shared. In the following field divi- 
sions a greater number of tenants had parcels: — 

Field Name Number of Tenants Total Area in Acres 

Outdayerdose 27 87 

Lc HoLme 13 15 -h 10 (enclosed) 

Le Holmebushes 16 2 

Redmore (arable) 19 17) 

Hallmg (meadow) 13 13) 

Le linge 9 isi 

Kdd head (meadow) 8 8f 

Kelderdales (meadow) 4 5) 

Galloberg 5 9} 

In these larger areas the shares of the tenants inclined to be more 
or less equal. Holdings in Le Holmebushes were usually \ of 
an acre, in Outelayerclose 2§ or 5 acres, in Hailing and in Red- 
more f of an acre, in Gallowberg i\ acres, and in Le Linge 
2 acres. The equality of partition and the character of the names 

^ Land Rev., M. B. 312, ff. 1-7. 


suggest that here too there had been improvement of the waste 
in which many tenants had shared. '' Ling " is a term applied 
to a common; ^ Le Hohnebushes bespeaks a brewery; Outelayer- 
dose is reminiscent of outfield. It is not improbable that at 
Lazonby there was practiced the temporary appropriation of 
cultivable land, perhaps followed by its reversion to waste — a 
procedure suggested at Soulby and Fingland and well known to 
Northiunberland and Scotland. 

Although this characteristic seems discernible in Cumberland 
tillage, the location of the acres of a holding one to another has 
not yet become apparent. At Soulby the half-dozen acres of 
each tenant's infield appear to have been consolidated, since they 
are described as having been " adjacent " to the tenements.* 
At Lazonby the imdivided areas may have been similarly situ- 
ated, but we cannot tell. A survey of Ainstable made in 19 
Elizabeth assists a little in elucidating this important point.' 
To each of the three constituent hamlets of " Southeranraw," 
Ruckroft, and Castledyke it assigns some half-dozen tenants, 
with holdings of about ten acres apiece in the respective hamlet- 
fields; but regarding the position of these acres we learn nothing. 
The remaining tenants seem to belong to the hamlet of Ain- 
stable proper. Although sometimes the holdings here are not 
located, at other times they are said to have lain largely in South 
field or Kirk field. When this is the case, each was, except in one 
instance, entirely within one or the other of these fields.* Some- 
times, too, the acres of a tenant of one of the other hamlets lay 
wholly or partly in South field. Now, South field and Kirk 
field were pretty clearly not hamlet-fields attached to diflferent 
hamlets, but were the two fields of a single township. Nor can 
the acres which fell within them be looked upon as enclosed, 

* Cf. below, p. 326. 

* Once the account adds that they lay to the south {ex austro), once that they 
. were enclosed, twice that they were called Lyngarth. 

* Land Rev., M. B. 312, ff. 7-12. 

* In South field were three tenements of 5, 4), and 4 acres respectively; in 
Kirk field there were six containing in all 24 acres; one tenement had li acres 
in South field and 2 in Kirk field; another had 5 acres in Kirk field and 2 in Low 
field; one tenement of 10 acres lay m Low field. The acres of six tenements are 
not located. 


since the survey takes pains to distinguish its enclosures/ and at 
times states that a tenant's acres were scattered.* The con- 
clusion, then, must be that, if a Cumberland hamlet had two 
open fields, the acres of the holdings were not divided between 
them but lay distributed throughout one of them. This implies 
further that the dispersion of parcels was not very great, since 
it was possible to gather all those of a holding within an area 
described as one field. 

A similar situation is pictured in part of a description of the 
manor of Bromfield entitled " The Survey of lands in Alenbye 
now in the tenure of Jenet Shaw widoe and Michell fawcon." • 
The first rigg which each tenant held is said to have lain in the 
East field, and the four following riggs were presumably in the 
same place. Thereafter one butt, two riggs, and two " Ing- 
dailes " are definitely said to have been in this field, and the 
location of only three butts is left imcertain. Without much 
doubt the parcels of the two tenants lay almost entirely within 
the so-called East field of Alenby. 

A like tendency toward segregation rather than wide distri- 
bution of the parcels of a holding appears in certain glebe terriers. 
At Hutton in the Forest the twelve strips of which the glebe 

^ For example, " John Gibson tenet unum tenementum et unam clausam eidem 
ibidem adiacentem . . . continentem ii acras terre, prati, et pasture, et unam 
pedam terre in South field." 

* Ai^urtenant to one holding was a messuage, an acre close, and eight acres 
of arable, meadow, and pasture lying " diversim in campo ibidem vocato South- 

* Add. Char. 17163, i Eliz. The q)ecifications run as follows: — 

" Aytber of them oat Rigg in the estefeyld called Tngdalcs 
Ayther of them a Rigge called totteryge 
Ayther of them another Rigge called lange smele Rige 
Asrther of them one Rigge up<m borwe 
Ayther of them A wawcaye Rige 

Ayther of them one but in the same feyld called udge on butt 
And Ayther of theym oat Rige in the said feld called grige 
Also Ayther of th^m haith one Rige of medo lying in the este fidd in one plays called 

the mire Doyle cont^ning by estimati(Mi two parts of one acar 
Item two Tngdailes lying in the newe Inge in the same contening by estimation one half 

Acar bdooging Evenlye betwyn the said tenants 
Item Ayther of the sayd tenants haith one but called the crosse but, et Ayther of theirm 

haith one wheat but lying on the weste syde of Alenbye mill 
Item Ayther of them haith one Diyebut of the weste syde 
Item Ayther <rf them haith one cowegate in the griff Ing als kckryge 
Also there is oomen of pasture and turf graysce for there Rate of the comen of Alenbye." 



was composed (a total of 18} acres) were described in 1704 as 
'' all . . . butting on the pasture/' ^ a situation which precludes 
their distribution throughout the entire arable area. In another 
terrier inserted at the end of the register of Wetheral is a list 
of the parcels of land which in 1455 belonged to the prior at 
Warwick, a village near Carlisle.^ A glance at the description 
will show that many parcels either lay in or abutted upon '^ Les 
Halfakyrs/' and that Les Halfakyrs in turn abutted upon the 

^ Cumb. and Westm. Antiq. and Archaeol. Soc., Trofis.f new series, igio, x. 126. 
s J. E. Prescott, Regisier of ike Priory cf Wetkerhal (London, 1897), p. 374- The 
specifications run as follows: — 

'''Terrae de Morehouae jacentes in divenis lods infn Dommhim de Warthetnrk pertinentes 

Priori de WedyriuJe . . . 
Imprinm jM^dicti juratores praeaentant et dicunt quod stmt infra dictum Dominium 
i acra vocata le TofUandakyr cuius unus finis abuttat super Bromlands et alius finb 

versus Lynstock 
Item dimidia acra terrae cuius unus finb abuttat super les Bromlands et alius finis 

versus Lynstock 
Item iii rodae de les Bromland buttantes super terram quae vocatur le Bromylcroft 
Item i roda et dimidia terrae buttantes super altam viam et super les Bromlands 
Item le Tesdlatheakyr buttans super altam viam et super communam de Wartbeinrk 
Item i roda terrae jacens super Rodyfbank et buttans super le Skewgh 
Item i acra terrae jacens super Rodsrfbank et buttans super le Skewgh 
Item iii acra terrae jacentes super Roclyfbank et super dictum Skewgh 
Item i acra parceUa de les Halfakyrs abuttans super Henry-h<dme et super les Halfakyrs 
Item dimidia acra terrae parceUa de les Halfakyrs abuttans super Henry-holme et 

auper les Halfakyrs 
Item i acra terrae parcdla de les Halfakyrs abuttans super Warthewsrk-wath et super 

les Half aksrrs 
Item le Shouptreflat continens ii acras parcdla de les Halfakyn abattantes super Rot- 

di^te et super les Halfakyrs 
Item ii acrae parcdla de les Halfakyrs abuttantes super altam viam et super aquam de 

Item dimidia acra parcdla de les Halfakjm abuttans super altam viam et super 

aquam de Eden 
Item dimidia acra parcdla de les Halfakyrs abuttans super altam viam et super Mjrdle- 

Item i acra terrae vocata le Goteakyr jacens in longitudine per aquam de Eden 
Item i roda terrae vocata Strawfordrode abuttans super aquam de Eden verans raatrilnm 

de Lynstok et super les Bothomrodes 
Item ii acrae terrae vocatae Grastanflatt jacentes super les Shortbutts versua aquam de 

Item le Stockflatt continens v acras terrae abuttantes super le Soketflatt et super altam 

Item le Pittflatt continens ii acras terrae abuttantes super altam viam et super le 

Item dimidia acra terrae abuttans super aham viam et super le Syke vocatum Wbet- 

Item ii acrae jacentes super le Butbrome et super les Halfakyrs et super aham viam 
Item ii acrae terrae abuttantes super terram de Aglunby et super terram vocatam 

Item i acra et dimidia terrae vocatae Fulla lands abuttantes super altam viam et 

super les Halfakyrs et super FuUadub 
Item i acra terrae vocata Stanbry^ands.'* 


aUa via and the aqua de Eden. Every parcel in the list except 
the last one and the three in Roclyfbank is thus described fully 
enough to be brought either into immediate contact with the 
aUa via or the aqua de Eden, or into contact with some parcel 
which touches upon one of them. The chain becomes continuous, 
except for four parcels about which we are insufficiently informed 
and which at best contain only one-sixth of the total area. Un- 
less the entire open arable field of Warwick abutted upon the 
aUa via and the aqua de Eden, we may safely conclude that the 
prior's acres lay segregated in one part of it 

Early and late terriers thus concur in segregating to some 
extent the parcels of a holding. Perhaps not too much should 
be made of this feature, since we are not well informed of the 
precise extent of the fields to which the foregoing terriers relate. 
Yet one aspect of the subject seems clear, — the grouping of 
strips which prevailed at Ainstable, Alenby, Hutton, and War- 
wick was not consistent with a two- or three-field sjrstem. 
Whether the parcels of arable were markedly segregated or not, 
their distribution throughout two or three large fields is not at 
all perceptible. 

One should formulate no conclusion, however, without giving 
attention to earlier testimony. Little of this is to be foimd in 
the feet of fines, but a few instructive thirteenth-century terriers 
are embedded in the cartularies of Holme Cultram, Wetheral, 
and St. Bees.^ Noteworthy is the unanimity with which these 
terriers locate their parcels by furlongs, without any attempt at 
grouping them by fields. At Wetheral, for example, the 4 acres 
that accompanied a house and croft consisted of nine such parcels, 
and another grant of if acres refers the parcels to eight locali- 
ties.* Sometimes the specifications are full enough to show 
that the localities were not after all remote from one another. 
This was the case with 10 acres and 3 perches which St. Bees 
acquired at Rotington.* All parcels except the first lay adja- 

^ The cartulary of Lanercost prioiy I have not been able to eTamine. 
' Piesoott, Regisier of WeUierhal, pp. 136, 141. 

* Had. MS. 434, f. 169 (a late thirteenth-centuiy cartulary). The apedfica- 
tkms run as follows: — 

** Due acre et dimidk iacent in mcytigwra inter monm et campum quod vocator Kenelflat 
Item una acta que^vocatur garebrad iacet iuxta terrain que vocatur Kirkdand . . . 


cent to " Kirkeland " or to " Wynnefoth," which were in turn 
connected by the fourth parcel. If we knew that the terrier 
referred to a tenant's holding, we should have clear evidence 
bearing on the segregation of parcels. That we do not points 
to our need of terriers that describe bovates, the unit in which 
lands were rated in Cumberland. 

Happily such terriers are available from five townships. At 
Melmorby, in the eastern mountains, the bovates were imdivided 
plats. One is described as " illam bovatam quae iacet propin- 
quior terrae Adae filii Henrici versus orientem ";* two others 
are " illas quae iacent inter terram Beatae Mariae Karleoli et 
Littilgilsic." * Near the western coast at Blencogo much the 
same plat-like character must have pertained to " duas bovatas 
terre . . . iacentes propinquiores porte ex occidentali parte 
ville." * Since, however, the two had been given as a dower 
{in liberum marUagium) and were not accompanied by mes- 
suages, they may have been demesne lands. At the moimtain 
hamlet of Caber two bovates are somewhat similarly described, 
about 1240, as comprising one parcel of land probably rather 
large, three professedly small, and a parcel of marsh.* From 
Warwick, whence we have already had the terrier of the Wetheral 
lands in 1455, comes the description of a bovate which was given 
to the priory soon after 11 75. It consisted of " quinque acras 

Item dimkiia acr» iacet in fridayUndes et extendit se . . . a bercaria usque ad . . . 

Kirkdand . . . 
Item una acra et septemdedm pertkate iacent iuxta Bcrcariam . . . inter terram que 

vocatur Wynnefoth et . . . Kirkdand 
Item una crofta . . . que continet in se onam acram et aex prrticata^ iuzt& . . . 

Item tret acre et tres Rode et dimidia iacent inter Benardbon et BredMM et extendunt 

ae in lonfltudine de Wsmndotb usque ad seberth.'* 

^ Prescott, Repsttr of WHherkal, p. 289. 

• Ibid., *o». 

• Hari. MS. 3011, f. 57* (an early fourteenth-century copy). 

• " Totam terram a superioci parte Mussae ad NeubuaseluQ sicut k sOkette 
deacendit a predkta Mussa usque ad v*iam ad Surflatende et sicut dicta via tendit 
uaque . . . (ctc.» bounded at lensth], et in Bacstanegyle et in Bodium duas acras 
et dimidiam, et quandam partinunculam terrae quae \x>catur le Gare . . . et ab 
angulo ftMMti lie Communa duas acras t^rae in latitudiiie versos Mussam . . . 
et totam meditatam Mariwi Scalmmanoch versus meridie m " (Prescott, 
^ WftkfrM, p. tH,0. 


in Westcroft, et duas acras in Graistanflat, et unam acram iuxta 
holm cum prato ad predictam terram pertinente." ^ These 
four early bovate terriers show no marked distribution of par- 
cels. One describes the acres as lying in five places (including 
the marsh), another assigns them to three, while two terriers 
imply that the bovates were consolidated. 

Different is the fifth terrier, superior to the others in that the 
bovate which it describes was appurtenant to a messuage. The 
land lay at Tallantire, and was granted to St. Bees late in 
the thirteenth century. It consisted of twelve parcels, but 
there is little indication how these were situated relative to 
one another.^ Only two lay in the same area, Biggehove, the 
others being in different furlongs. In the absence of descriptive 
locations we cannot tell how widely these furlongs may have 
been separated; but at least they formed a group distinct, with 
one exception, from the group in which nine other acres in Tal- 
lantire lay. The latter are described in a grant which appears 
to have been contemporary with the other one, since to some 
extent the names of the witnesses are the same; like the first, its 
acres were attached to a toft and probably constituted a holding. 
If such were the case, we have two tenements in the same township, 
each comprising several parcels, but parcels which in only one 
instance lay in the same furlong (Bighou).' While this does not 

* Prcscott, Register of Wetherhd, p. 121. 

* The description (Had. MS. 434, f. 161) runs as follows: — 

" Unam bovatam tore ad mensuram Rode vigmti pedes continentis . . . cum tofto et 
cnrfto integro et toto prato ad illam bovatam terre . . . pertinentibus . . . videlicet, 

in crofto duas acras et dimidiam xodam et quatuordedm perticatas 

apud biggehoue versus ocddentem unam acram et unam rodam et quatuor perticatas 

ibidem versus orientem duas rodas et dimidiam 

apud thuabooel unam acram 

sub WartheboUs unam acram et unam rodam et vigintinovem perticatas 

apud routhelattds unam rodam et tresdedm perticatas 

infra vias de Warthehol' et Karlk>l duas acras et unam rodam et dimidiam et quinque 

i^Mid beybeibe unam acram et viginti tres perticatas 

apud leuedibuthes dimidiam acram et quatuor perticatas 

ad Sandrig tres rodas et dimidiam rodam et octo perticatas 

ad hildirflath unam acram et unam rodam et dimidiam rodam et quatuordedm perticatas 

in cultura a moltiidino versus aquilonem in quinta et sexta selione 

verms orienton duas rodas et dimidiam et sexdecim perticatas.'' 

' Ibid., f. 161b, The description runs as follows: — 

" In croCto eiusdon domus tres rodas et octodedm perticatas 
In hafwrfairoo cum prato iU iacente quinque rodas et unam p^ticatam 


prove that the parcels of each group were segregated, it suggests 
that such may have been the case. 

Other early terriers of the cartularies relate to groups of 
acres or fractional acres which are not designated as bovates or 
tenants' holdings. They incline, like the TaUantire terriers, to 
locate parcels in several furlongs which are not brought into 
relation with one another and are never grouped by fields. Hence 
they furnish little information, except to make clear that more 
or less scattered strips were the constituents of early Cumber- 
land fields and to emphasize the absence of a two- or three-field 

At this point our evidence comes to an end. The nature of 
Cumberland open field has been ascertained only in its broader 
aspects; yet these are perhaps sufficient to determine certain 
affiliations. It has been pointed out that the field arrangements 
of Northumberland in the sixteenth century and at an earlier 
time manifested Scottish characteristics, though various descrip- 
tions concur with the map in disclosing other characteristics not 
Scottish. In particular did the size of the townships differ from 
what was usual across the border. Nor is it clear that the arable 
of a Northumberland townshq> was ever divided sharply into 
infield and outfield, each tilled in the Scottish manner. On the 
contrary, a larger stretch of cultivable land was probably kept 
imder more continuous tillage than in Scotland. The field sys- 
tem of the county seems, in short, to have had midland as well 
as Scottish aspects. Cxmiberland, on the other hand, appears 
to have inclined more to Celtic usages. 

In the first place, there nowhere occur in Cumberland sur- 
veys and terriers suggestions of a two- or three- or four-field 
grouping such as are often found, though not well substantiated, 
in Northumberland documents. If, by chance, mention is 
made in a Cumberland terrier of an East field, there is small 
likelihood of finding further reference to a West field or a Middle 

Ad Braidroa unam acram et tres rodas et decern perticatas 

In thorfinefakjrr unam acnun et tres rodas et octodedm perticatai 

Ad bighou tres rodas una perticata minus 

Ad Uaakepot unam rodam et triginta duas perticatas 

Super Banks unam acram et triginta perticatas 

Ad viam que dodt ad caprflam Sancte Trinitatis tits lodas o rt wlrir im pertacataa." 


field. It is not merely that the absence of an equal division of 
the acres of a holding among such fields leads to a distrust of 
the agrarian significance of the latter, as in Northmnberland, but 
it seems clear that symmetrical fields seldom or never existed. 
Nor is the infrequent appearance of fields due to paucity of 
documents; for Cumberland survej^ and terriers are not less 
numerous than those usually available from a midland county. 
Instead of adopting the midland arrangement, the acres of a 
holding seem even to have manifested a tendency to concen- 
trate within one part of the arable area of a township. If we 
have insufficient evidence to prove that this was usual, its 
occasional occurrence is none the less contributory to a disbelief 
in the extension of the midland system to the county. 

Apart from the intractability in Cumberland and probably in 
Northmnberland, of the acres of a holding relative to a systematic 
field arrangement, we have from both counties positive proof of 
Scottish affiliations. Briefly stated, it is that, in both, portions 
of the waste were after the Scottish manner temporarily tilled and 
then allowed to revert to pasture. For Northmnberland the 
evidence of this practice consists of certain descriptive state- 
ments, for Cumberland of inferences drawn from sixteenth- 
century surveys. But whether the Scottish division between 
compact outfield and infield was maintained in Northmnberland 
there "is reason to doubt. In Cumberland, on the contrary, it 
was perhaps more persistent, if one may judge from the phrases 
of the Fingland terrier.^ Such a persistence, were we assured 
of it, would constitute a second point of difference between 
Cumberland and Scottish agrarian arrangements on the one 
hand and those of the midlands and Northumberland on the 

We are better informed, however, regarding a third dissimi- 
larity — that, namely, which inhares in the size of the townships. 
As has been pointed out, Northmnberland townships were large, 
those of Cumberland small, as were also those of Scotland. 
Often the total area of these small townships was not more than 
6ne-fourth of what was usual in the midlands or in Northumber- 

^ Cf. above, p. 232. 


land. Whether, then, the size of township fields or the method 
of their tillage be considered, Cximberland appears more Celtic 
than any other county of England thus far examined. To the 
south, however, lies a stretch of territory in which the Celtic 
population long withstood the Anglo-Saxons, and in which, 
therefore, phenomena not unlike some of those already described 
in this chapter may be apparent. 


Since Lancashire was once joined with Cumberland in the old 
Celtic kingdom of Strathclyde, we shall expect to find in the 
two coimties similar agrarian conditions. There should be 
discernible in Lancashire, as in Cxmiberland, few surviving open 
common fields in the eighteenth century, but at an earlier time 
a certain number of small ones in which the parcels of the tenants 
had no systematic midland arrangement. 

Slater found in Lancashire no common fields enclosed by act 
of parliament, although there are numerous acts affecting com- 
monable waste.^ The report submitted by John Holt to the 
Board of Agriculture in 1 794 estimated that nearly one-half of the 
area of the county was waste — 508,000 acres out of 1,129,600. 
" There are," he says, " but few open or common fields at this 
time remaining; the inconvenience attending which, while they 
were in that state, has caused great exertions to accompSlish a 
division, in order that every individual might cultivate his own 
lands according to his own method; and that the lots of a few 
acres, in many places divided into small portions, and again 
separated at different distances, might be brought together into 
one point. . . . The indosures or fields are in general very 
small, so much so as to cause great loss of ground from their 
number and the space occupied by hedges, banks and ditches. " ' 
All this bespeaks piecemeal endosiure of common fidds, perhaps 
long continued. 

^ Em^fkh PmsatUry, p. 255, 

* GmfMl Vkw of tk$ AtriaiUm$ 0/ Uk CmuUy of L amcaski n (London, 1794)1 

PP* 40> S>* 


A concrete illustration of the early prevalence of enclosures 
is at hand in a detailed survey of the large manor of Rochdale, 
mJEule in 1626.^ This estate, situated in the southeastern part 
of the county, included some twenty-four hamlets and had an 
area of 41,828 acres. Somewhat more than one-fourth of the 
manor remained in open common waste at the time of the sur- 
vey, but the remainder lay almost entirely in closes. At times 
there were parcels of pasture which, being newly divided, were 
not yet enclosed.* Intermixed arable strips were nowhere to be 
found. Thus, to a large tract of land on the edge of the moors 
— a tract which may never, to be sure, have had much open- 
field arable — the eighteenth-century description was applicable 
a hundred and fifty years earlier. 

There is, however, no difl&culty in finding traces of open 
common arable in the seventeenth century. The rental of the 
houses and lands of Edward Moore at Liverpool, drawn up in 
1667-68 and imconsdously offering a striking comment on the 
later development of that port, frequently attaches to the houses 
" several lands [e. g., ten] in the field." Elsewhere it is the 
" town field," but we get no further detail.' 

An instructive document illustrative of early seventeenth- 
century conditions in Lancashire is an account, drawn up in 
1616, of the "Appropriate Parsonages or Rectories of Black- 
bourne and Whaley . . . possessions and Heriditaments belonging 
to the Archbishopricke of Canterburie." * Since there belonged 
" imto the said Rectory the Moietie of the Lordship of Black- 
bourne," the townships included in the enumeration extended 
over an area of at least 200 square miles in the northeastern 
part of the coimty.* With one exception the land described in 

^ Henry Fishwick, Survey of the Manor of Rochdale (Chetham Soc., 1913), pp. 
ziii, zv. 

* Ibid., 240, Wliitworth hamlet: " A parcel of pasture . . . lying open 
amongst the rest of the Copyholders in the Trough containing statute [measure], 
10 acres, 3 roods." Areas held by other copyholders '' in the Trough '' are given. 

' Thomas Heywood, The Moore Rental (Chetham Soc., 1847), pp. 19, 23, et 

« Eich. K. R., M. B. 40^ flf. 24-46. 

^ The townships were Samdsbury, Overdale, Walton, Downham, Church, Has- 
Hn gtfUn, Bumky, Cdne, Clitheroe, besides Blackburn and Whalley. 


each township lay in doses, often many in number. The excep- 
tion was the township of Altham in the parish of Whaliey, where 
the glebe lands comprised a long list of open-field selions.^ A note 

^ Exch. K. R., M. 6. 40, ff. 40 sq. The description runs as fdlows: — 

" Nofw foDoweth ye panooace Glcabe of Whaley lying within ye towneship of Ahretham aliu 

AlUum, vis: 
Item ... in a feild of the Eyes toward Simooston certaine lands caHed Calved Eyes 

with a parcdl betwene the divisimis of the waters 
Item in the same Eyes towards Alvetham alias Altham, certaine lands called little Eyes 

neere the Milldara . . . and so descending into Calder 
Item at a place called the Bron^houses a Mesuage which sometimes Adam of SsgA/ea. 

Item there nere the greene gate fower Sdions butting upon the way 
Item in the same feild in a certaine iJace called the farthings fower sdions 
Item in the same feOd a sdion like to a headland nere the house which sometime John of 

Item nere the said mesuage six selions butting upon the said messuage 
Item in the same feild two sdions 

Item in the Mitthom twoo selions nere the syke with meadou in both the ends 
Item in the west parte of Nether East feild a Selion with a geron towards the west 
Item in the same feild six selions iacentes divisim 
Item in the Over east field xi selions iacentes divisim 
Item b the feild of Hoghton in the Bla^croft xviii sdkms iacentes divisfan amongst 

percells of the oxegangs 
Item in the same feild six Butts iacentes divisim 

Item in the same feild of Hoghton at the Rishy flatt thirteene sdions iacen te s divisim 
Item in the same fidd ten sdions iacentes simul which is caUed the Barriers 
Item in a certaine feild called the Hanflatt contayning in length xxxvii sdions and on 

the other side ix selions with a way Isring to the said f efld toward the wood 
Item in the same field <rf Hoghton the WalUands conteyning xi sdions and in another 

place in the same feild xxi selions 
Iton in the feild above the Hall a mesuage which b called Hannehoustecd and four 

selions extending themsdves fnun the said mesuage to the Bame of the Mannor of 

Item a certaine place called Hannecroft in the same feild conteyning six Butts 
Item on the west parte <rf the Mannour a certaine Messuage which Roger de Omesden 

sometime held with all Sdions abutting upon the said Mesuage and two sdions whose 

ends are extended neere the said Messuage 
Item in the feild of Mibecrolt two Selions iacentes divisim 
Item in the feild of Locdshall six Sdk»ks iacentes divisim 
Iton in the feild of Tonnested twenty-one Sdions iacentes divisim 
Item there at the Hartstalgreve and Firme ten Sdk»ks iacentes divisim 
Item in the Nethertonnsted xi selions iacentes divisim 
Item in the West Esres xvii selions with three Butts and a gcroa 
Item beyond the water towards Reved five sdions iacentes divisim 
Item a certajnr Mesuage on the east part of the Mesuage with the priests boose 
Item in the Brichholme a certain Croft 
Item a certaine place neere the Manner gate for a Tjrth bame 
Item in the greate meadow under the Lords hUl in the East part of the said meadow 

in breadth bdH feete lying together whoae longitude b extended from the Lords hill 

to the Hay ol the Kcne 
Item in the middle ol the same feild from a part ol the old Cawaegr xzvii feet in latitude 

and from the other part ol the said Cawscy xviii feet in latitude extending itself in 

longitude as before 
Item further in the same feild toward the west two Sdions 
Item in the same acmIow toward the Men eeage the mortk of all that parodl called 

the McBoeage dividii^ it equally with tJbe Lord altcnus vidbw 


at the end of the list records that certain of the field names were 
ancient and that enclosure had recently been in progress.^ 

As to the field system which underlay this elaborate descrip- 
tion only tentative conclusions can be drawn. Since four mes- 
suages appear, it is possible that three or four holdings were 
thrown together. If the selions described between the first and 
second messuages belonged to one holding, they lay very largely 
in " the field of Hoghton." Here were 59 selions and 6 butts, 
whereas to none of the other five fields in this group were assigned 
more than 1 1 selions, Hanflatt being probably a close. This im- 
plies considerable segregation. After passing the second mes- 
suage new fields appear, none of them containing very many 
selions, save Tonnested and Nethertonnsted with 21 and 11, 
and West Eyes with 17. If, on the other hand, the messuage 
succession has no significance and parcels in the same field 
belonging to different messuages are thrown together, we can 
only say about the field system that it seems to have been 
entirely irregular. 

WhQe Altham yields only this terrier, Warton situated to the 
west on the coast boasts a complete survey of 7 James I.' En- 
closed land is here carefully distinguished from common field, 
the latter being said to lie " in communibus campis," or " in 
Warton field," or " in le Townefield." Although an occasional 
parcel of common meadow is singled out for specific location, 
this almost never happens to the arable, except to eight parcels 
" in le Bonetowne " and four " super le towne." The field 
system cannot therefore be ascertained, and it only remains to 

Item in the furthest part o£ the said meadow which goeth towards the Mihie croft in 
the East part two selions lying neere the Lords hill with a certaine round parcell of 
the same meadow nere the hedge o( the same Selions 

Item in the west parte of the end of the said meadow a gereon and beneath that two 

Item at the Hartalstall greve ten Sdi<Mis 

Item all the meadow of Altham in Sjrmooston Eighes with all the errabk there.'* 

^ '* Item the said Jurors do further find present and say that the names of the 
feilds aforementioned were the auncient names of the said feilds, but time hath 
wome out those names and given them new names ondy some of the aundent names 
remaine at this day, viz: the Hoghtons, the Kerre, the Mitthom. Whidi Hog^- 
tons were of late yeares divided into divers doses, and so the andent longitude 
and latitude of them doth not in any one feiki continue at this day." 

« Land Rev., M. B. 220, S. 27-58. 


determine the area of the open field relative to the area enclosed. 
The five freeholders, who controlled 29 cottages and gardens 
had, it appears, 15 enclosed acres, while, the land attached to the 
forty-four customary messuages amounted to about 270 enclosed 
acres (mainly small parcels of pasture) and about 287 acres of 
common field, of which at least 107 acres were common meadow. 
Of open-field arable there were, therefore, not more than 180 
acres, or about one-fourth of the cultivated land of the township. 
No rights of pasturage over the arable are mentioned, most 
tenants having " cattle gates " in Lyndeth Marsh or in le Inges, 
and sometimes common pasture for sheep on Warton Crag and 
Warton Marsh. 

For two Lancashire townships there are fifteenth-century 
terriers testifying to the existence of open arable fields.^ One 
recites a grant to Penwortham priory of lands at Farrington, 
a hamlet southeast of Preston. By it were transferred, along 
with a messuage, 7} and 11 acres of arable. Of the ^\ acres, 
5 were in a field which bore the name of the adjacent hamlet of 
Clayton {in quodatn catnpo vocalo ClaghUmfdde), and the rest 
in three parcels lay respectively in Brockforlong, Stainfeld- 
more, and " ex parte boreali le Heghgate." The 11 acres lay, 
we know not how divided, " in Longestainfeld, Brokeforlong, 
Shortstainfeld, et le Orchards, et Catcroft medowe."* To 
judge from this grant, the subdivisions of Farrington field were 
few in number, scarcely more than a half-dozen. A like sim- 
plicity of field division is apparent in the other terrier, despite 
its greater length. This specifies the parcels which were sub- 
tracted from three bovates and three acres of arable, and from 

^ It would seem at first sight as if there were useful informatioii in a long fifteenth- 
century survey of the lands of Sir Peter Legh at Warrington near the mouth of the 
Mersey, published by the Chetham Society in 1849 (WiUiam Beamont, WarringUm 
in 146s). Apart from the messuages, gardens, and certain acres" in campovocato 
Hollay," much of the land described lay ** in magno campo vocato Axpdey," or 
in some part of it, as Le Wroe or Wetakyrs. A gjance at the Warrington of today, 
however, shows that the reference is undoubtedly to the large tract of meadow land 
almost endrded by the Mersey and still called Arpsley meadows. We can learn 
litUe about field systems from intermixed acres of common meadow. 

> W. A. Hulton, DocumcHts rdaUng te the Priory of PcKWortkam (Chetham Soc, 
1853)1 p. 67 (22 Hen. Vn). 


ten acres of meadow, at Bolron near Lancaster.^ Except for 
the if acres in the last three parcels, the arable lay m four 
parts of the field. At Bolronbroke and Bolrondale were 1} acres 
in four parcels, in or under the Withins 2} acres in four parcels, 
" super Bambrest " 4} acres in four parcels, and in the Oldefalde 
1} acres apparently together. Locations like these at Farring- 
ton and Bolron do not adapt themselves to a three-field arrange- 
ment They suggest rather small hamlet fields subdivided into 
a few areas somewhat like midland furlongs. Throughout these 
furlongs the parcels of a tenant were scattered irregularly. 

These characteristics are reproduced and emphasized in several 
thirteenth-century terriers referring chiefly to townships situated 
on the coastal plain between Preston and Lancaster. For the 
most part they record grants to Cockersand abbey, grants that 
seldom convey so much as ten acres of open-field arable, therein 
differing from the charters of a midland cartulary, which nearly 
alwa3rs include some long specifications. In the brief Cocker- 
sand transfers it is possible, none the less, to discover in a measure 
the relative positions of the parcels conveyed. Typical in all 
respects is the charter relative to a messuage, garden, and 5^ 
acres of arable at Sowerby.* Not only were the acres granted 

1 William Farrer, CkarUdary of Cockersand Abbey (Chetham Soc., 3 vok. in 7 

pts., 189S-1909), iii. pt. L 819-820. The ^ledficatioos run as fdlows: — 
" Robertas . . . recupertvit trkinain nuun . . . 

de mediffatc unins acne tenrne iaceote ex otimque parte de BolroDl»pke . . . 

ac de una roda terrae in Boboodak iaceote inter terrain . . . 

et de una alia roda terrae in Bolrondale per se 

necnon de mcdirfate unius acrae terrae cum uno tofto cum suit pertinentibui in Bol- 

ac de tribui rodis terrae jacentibus subtus le Withins in AkUancastre 

ed de una alia roda in eadem per se 

ac de tribus rodis terrae in eadem per se 

et de aliis tribus rodis terrae in eadem perse 

Et etiam de quinque rodis terrae in k (Mdefalde cum sirposis daosoris 

et de una acra terrae super Bambrist iuxta k Lone in Scot f orde cum qoodam prato . . . 
sdlioet, Morehous, oontinente duas acraa et dimidiam 

Et similiter de duabus acris et medietate unius (acrae] teme iacentibus super Bambrest 

ac de tribus rodis teme super Bambrest per se 

ac de una roda terrae et prati super Bambrest 

Ac etiam de tribus rodis terrae in k Riddjmg in Sootfbrd 

ac de tribus rodis terrae iuxta k Standandstooe 

et de una roda terrae super k Clyff . ..." 

* Ibid., L pt IL 244 (c. 1230-Z368). The arable oompriBed: — 
" TttM perttijcatas in orientali parte de Stirap super aquam de Broc 


few in number, but, as the 'locations show, they were not widely 
separated; all the parcels except the last were connected in 
one way or another with Stirap, Quitakedich, and the " aqua 
de Broc," which three in turn were near one another. The 
segregation which has been noted in Cumberland reappears. It 
can also be traced to some extent at Preston in the eight parcels 
which were transferred along with a burgage tenement and the 
third part of a toft.^ Apart from the meadow, an assart, and 
a half -acre near the garden, the arable lay largely in Siclingmor 
and Platfordale, with something in Aldefeld and at Sewallesike; 
but how these areas were related we do not discover. Traces 
of segregation are discernible, once more, in one of the longest 
charters of the cartulary. From it we learn that the ten 
acres which the abbey acquired at Newton comprised many 
parcels, some of them described as selions.' Since 5^ acres and 
more than half of the selions lay in Otemaste and Wodebinde 
furlongs, these two divisions of the open field contained more 
than three-fourths of the ten acres conveyed. In fact, one of 
them alone comprised about five acres, a predominance which 
would not be met with in a normal midland terrier. 

Perhaps these descriptions may suffice to show that the 
open fields of Lancashire had characteristics similar to those of 

et unam acntm et dimHiam in alk divisa . . . sequendo Quitakedich ... ad adlioDea 

de Stirap . . . 
et duas acras terrae in alia divisa . . . sequendo . . . usque aquam de Broc . . . 
et unam dimidiam acram in alia divisa super tenam de Lcgre." 

* Fairer, Chartulary of Cockersand Abbey, iii. pt i. 217 (c. 1230-1255). The 
parcels are described as follows: — 

" Totam teftam in assarto meo . . . 

et quatuor partes tenae super Siclingmor (three parceb, each between the lands of 

other men] 
et unam dimidiam acram super Aldefeld . . . 
et tres per(ti]catas tenae in Platfordale . . . 
et unam *<im»^*«"* acram in Platfordale . . . 
et dimidiam acram . . . iuzta orreum meum 
et totam tenam meam ex utraque parte de Sewallesike 
et totum pntum meum inter pratum Adae attn et commune Karrum." 

* Ibid., 175 (i 262-1 268). Except when otherwise specified, the foUowing 

areas are in acres: — 

Super Otemaste furiong,'* i, }, i, i, }, \, \, }. 3 sdions 
super Wodebinde furlong," 1. 1, 4 half-seUoos 
in superior! parte viae quae dudt ad Singihoo," s balf-sdioDa 
'* in inferkm parte viae de Singihon.*' 1 " Tungas " 
"super le hoMerthe/' i butt, s batf-sdioQS. | Miion 


** super Karfurloag.'' s " ▼*-»— " 


Cumberland. By the eighteenth century they had, like the 
fields to the north, become largely enclosed, though certain glebe 
terriers of the seventeenth century indicate that the intermixture 
of parcels persisted in a few localities and on a considerable scale. 
In these and in earlier terriers of the fifteenth and thirteenth cen- 
turies the nature of the open fields becomes apparent. Nowhere 
were the parcels grouped systematically in the midland manner. 
On the contrary, they are described as lying irregularly, in areas 
variously named and sometimes called furlongs, while not in- 
frequently they were segregated. Regarding the method em- 
ployed in tilling the open fields no information is at hand. Since 
such characteristics as we know about, however, are manifesta- 
tions of Celtic runrig, it seems permissible to join Lancashire 
with Cxmiberland, and assign both counties to the region within 
which English agriculture was affected by Celtic custom. 


QfE the counties on the Welsh border, Cheshire is most closely 
joined with that part of Wales to which considerable attention 
has been given. Since Chester is only some ten miles down the 
valley of the Dee froip Wrexham, we shall expect to find round 
about this county town common fields not imlike those of 
eastern Denbighshire. 

Late documents, however, do not tell much of common arable 
fields in Cheshire. The reporter to the Board of Agriculture in 
1794 estimated that they probably did not amount to 1000 acres 
in a coimty of 676,000 acres, nine-tenths of which was improved 
land.^ Descriptions of all the tenants' holdings at Davenham 
and Great Budworth in 1650 assure us that nothing but closes 
were to be foimd.' A great survey of Macclesfield manor and 
forest made in 9 James I gives minute details for some sixteen 
townships; * but throughout the entire survey there is scarcely 

^ Thomas Wedge, Gefu^al View of the AgricuUure of the County of Cheshire, 
London, 1794. 

* Pariiamentary Survejrs, Cheshire, No. 11. 

• Land Rev., M. B. 200, f. 239 (the survey comprises folios 147-357). A typical 
holding is described as follows: — 

" Juper Worth, esquire, clajrmeth to hold to him and his heym by oopie of court roH . . . 
Item One other tenement in the tenure d John Latham, via: 


a suggestion of open common field, except perhaps in the mention 
of a few unusual '^ parcells " of arable at Bollington.^ Apart 
from these, the entire manor lay in small closes, containing 
for the most part from one to two acres and consisting largely of 

None the less, there is seventeenth-century evidence that open 
common fields existed in Cheshire. In 1649 ^^ messuages and 
lands of the dean and chapter at Chester were surveyed. After 
an enumeration of several closes " situate without Northgate," 
the account describes a series of ^' parcells,'' mainly arable and 
usually of from one to two acres in extent. Though most of 
these are not said to be in open field, a few at the beginning of 
the list are so described: " In Chester Town Feild, One parcell 
of Ground, called Long hedge Acre ... is in Estimacion 2 
acres. . . . One parcell of ground more in Chester Town Field, 
near Dee Bank, called Grange Acre . . . [isl in Estimacion 
I acre, 2 roods. . . . One parcell of Arrable ground in the 
Lower Town Feild . . . commonly caled Burtons Acre . . . 
containeth by Estimacion 2 acres." ^ At least we are assured 
of the continued existence at Chester, in the middle of the seven- 
teenth century, of a " town field " the constituents of which were 
small parcels of arable. 

Not much more informing is an account of the " rectory lands " 
at Bowdon, dated 1654. This glebe was then leased to eight 
under-tenants, each with a messuage, though two were cot- 

One dwvlljiig bowse and the outbowtes thereunto bdonginse 

One dose Arr(able) called the Layefield by estimation 

One close called the Meadow place by estimation 

One other Arr(able] called the Hugh dose by ffHmatiiTn 

One other called the food cnrfte by estimation 

One other called the Goosie Meadowe by estimation 

One other Arr(ablel called the Sjrmentlcy Knowle by estimatioo 

One other Arr(able] called Symentley by estimation 

One other called the litle Meadow by estimation | * 

One other Arr(able] called the Calf e crofts by estimation 3 acres 

One other Arr(able] called the Bancks by estimation 3 " " 

^ Chie holding, for instance (Land Rev., M. B. 200, f. 331), includes: — 

" One parcell of Arrable in the towne field t\ roods 

one other parcell of Arrable in the Neather or towne field . 40 yards bx 5 yards 
one other parcell of Arrable called the Butt in Page Croft .so * « ^ « *> 

* Henry Fishwick, Lancashire and Cheshire Church Surveys (Lane, and Chesh. 
Rec. Soc, 1879), PP* 236-327. 




tagers. The six held for the most part a series of closes, but four 
had also '^ lands " or strips lying intermixed in places called 
Eyebrookes, Church field, and Hall field.^ These strips formed 
less than one-third of each leasehold, the ratios in acres being 
21 to 7si, 6J to 8si, 12 to 38J, 10 to 33i. The Eyebrookes was 
a dose, and may have been a dose of glebe shared by the four 
tenants. Since Hall field and Church field were situated '' upon 
the Downes," they suggest areas recently improved and sub- 
divided. Such constituents do not go to the making of normal 
open arable fields. 

Less vague is a survey of 1650 relative to the manor of Hand- 
bridge, just outside Chester.* Twenty-two of the tenants had 
each a messuage, a garden (never larger than half an acre), 
and common of pasture in Saltney Marsh. In addition, each 
had from one to six " lounds in the Towne feild." Always there 
were from one to three " lounds " in " Longefeild in the Towne- 
feOd," and eleven tenants had also a strip or two apiece " at 
the lower ende of the Bottom in the Town feild." There were 
besides two parcels " within the Gullett in the Townfeild," four 
at " Lowhill in the Townefields," and two at Crossflatts. At 
times the '^ lound " is said to have contained one acre, and on 
this basis the total area of all of them would have been about 
sixty acres. At length we have discovered a town field, small, 
to be sure, but one which had its subdivisions and one in which 
many tenants had intermixed parcels. 

In sixteenth-century terriers similar open fields are discernible 
in the same neighborhood. At Chester, in 2 Edward VI, the 
college of St. John the Baptist had several tenants, the holdings 

^ Fishwick, Lancashire and Cheshire Church Surveys, pp. 176-184. The items 
are as foUows: — 

" Nyne Unds in the Close called the Eye brookes, Conteyneinf by estimadoo 8 acres. . . . 

Seaven Lands in the Churchfeild and eight lands in the HaU hill, conteyneing by 

estimackm 13 acres. . . . 
Two lands and one head land in a Close Called the Eyebrookes, by estimacion a acres, 

a roods. . . . Three lands in the Church-feild and one land in the Hall feild, both 

upon the Downes, by estimacion 4 acres. . . . 
Seaven lands in the Eyebrookes, by estimacion 6 acres. One land in the long acrea, 

by f»*"**rKm I acre. . . . Two lands, two headlands in the Churchfeild, and three 

lands in the Hall feild or hall hill, by estimacion s Kres. . . . 
Seaven lands in the Eye brookes. by estimadoo 5 acres, a roods. . . . Power lands in 

the Church feild. with a small Cottage, by estimadoo 4 acres, a roods." 

* Pariiamentary Surveys, Cheshire, No. 13 A. 


of some twenty of whom included selions in different fields near 
the dty.^ These selions^ which are also called riggs or lands 
(ferre)y are never rated in acres; they even at times serve as 
units of measure for the butts. No tenant had more than eleven 
and one-half of them, the usual holding being five. Since the 
selion probably contained not more than an acre, the average 
share in the common field did not exceed five acres and the 
total extent of common arable cannot have been great. Of the 
three fields named, one is simply the field of Chester; Spyttd 
field and Banke field might seem to be subdivisions of this, were 
it not that in certain instances each is made coordinate with it. 
Usually the selions of a holding lay in a single field. Only four 
times are they assigned to two fields, and only once to three, 
the division of acres in the last case being unequal (2, 2^, 4). 
There is, therefore, no reason for concluding that a three-field 
system was known to the common field or fields of Chester in 
the middle of the sixteenth century. 

A terrier, contemporary with this from Chester and declaring 
itself a " bylle of the lands of Sir phylyppe Egertons," describes 
a holding in Tilston, a parish only about three miles across the 
Dee from the Denbighshire open fields of Issacoed and Pickhill. 
Most of the butts are assigned to the town field of Horton, 
itself one of the hamlets of the parish of Tilston; * but whether 

' Rents, and Survs., Portf. 6/24, ff. 6-9. The list b as follows, separation by 

semicolons indicating di£ferent holdings: — 

" In communi campo Cestrie or in atmpo ( unum pnttum; iu idiones; Ifi selkiiiet; 
Cestrie > iv sdiones; viii seUones; iii idionct 

fvi terre arabiles in orienUli parte; v idioQes; 
xi sdiones et dimidia; ri terre arabiks in 
orioitali parte; v seliones 
fiv seUones; quinque butu continentes ii ad- 
iones et dimidiam; iv seliones; quinque 
butts continentes ii sdiones et HimiHi^m 
fii seliones et iiii seliones; iii sdiones et ii 
seliones; ii seliones et iiii seliones et u 
sdiones terre et dimidia cum uno hadlonde 

In Bankefelde et ( v seliones et ii seliones; i selio et dimidia 

In Chesterfelde ( a iii seliones. " 

' Rents, and Survs., Portf. 1/4, No. 9. The specifications ran as fdlows: — 

" In the fylde of humfre hansoos there be thow buttys . . . 
In the same fylde be thow . . . (ebewherej Another botte . . . 
a hadlant lyeng in horton towne fylde . . . 
In the same fylde . . four . . . 


there was any grouping of butts within this field we do not 

Sixteenth-century arrangements at Tilston and at Chester 
thus seem to have been like those of the Denbighshire hamlets 
round Wrexham.* Selions in the possession of any tenant were 
few — seldom more than a half-dozen — and were located without 
any indication of grouping by fields. Often the entire open 
arable area was undifiFerentiated, being merely assigned to a 
hamlet. Such a " town field " must have been small and situated 
near the hamlet or village. Though one cannot in Cheshire, 
as in Denbighshire, compare total areas of townships with the 
areas of their open fields, the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century 
surveys of the former coimty, so far as they are extant, show 
fully as much enclosure as do those of the latter. In the char- 
acter and extent of its open field the Dee valley was at that 
time a imit. 

Thirteenth-century testimony regarding unenclosed fields in 
this part of Cheshire is not wanting. It is to be found largely 
in the cartulary of St. Werburgh, written soon after 1300,* and it 
accords with the sixteenth-century evidence. To sharpen our 
conception of a somewhat puzzling field system, it may be well 
to sunmiarize and illustrate the features that appear in the 

The grants were usually made in selions, " lands," or butts, 
the areas of which were not estimated in acres,' a procedure 

In the same fylde . . . the dere psrett' 

In the same fylde Another butt . . . 

In the same fylde other tbow . . . 

Another m the same fylde 

A tmtt lyeing in a fylde called the newe close ... a hadland another butt . . . 

another butt lyeing in a fylde called unerbrdie . . . 

other thow butt' lyeng in a fylde called the longe fylde . . . 

in the same fylde ... a hadland ... a roughst." 

* Cf. above, pp. 179-182. • Hari. MS. 2062. 

' Cf. Add. Chars. 50008, 50040, 50304, cited below. In one instance, however, 
a lay transaction of 1322 refers to ten acres in Aston [iuxta Mondrum], which 
lay " in le quytenacres, le oldefeld, Ruycedyche, Aldecrofte et in le Wallefdd '' 
(Add. Char. 49805). Once also Abbot Simon of St. Werburgh exchanged two 
messuages, two crofts, two lands, and two butts in " le hedfdd '* for " iii acras et 
i rodam iacentes inter landas suas et imum assartum continens v acras et unam 
rodam '' (Hari. MS. 2062, f. 226). 


that emphasizes the importance of the selion as an agrarian unit. 
Strips described in this way were often located by furlongs, as 
in a midland terrier. A specification of ten of them at Claverton 
in the time of Edward I illustrates both characteristics.^ Some 
selions lay in furlongs, others in fields, while still others, after a 
fashions prevalent in northwestern England, lay in areas named 
" Ulvesdale " and the " croft of Claverton." 

Another feature of thirteenth-century Cheshire charters, more 
striking than either of those just mentioned, becomes apparent 
in a description of lands transferred at Newton-near-Chester. 
Twenty-one and one-half selions " in campis eiusdem villae " are 
characterized as follows: — 

" Tres seliones que vocantur le Cleylondes 
tres seliones que vocantur le styweylondes 
duas seliones que vocantur le Schouelebradlondes 
unam selionem que vocatur le longhevedlond 
dimidiam selionem que vocatur le Cleyhalflond 
unam selionem que vocatur le Brocstanlond 
unam selionem que vocatur le loustynghevedlond 
unam selionem que vocatur le Cleyhevedlond 
unam dimidiam landam lacentem iiixta eandem Cleyheved- 
duas seliones que vocantur le Putlondes 
duas seliones que vocantur le Bradelakelondes 
et tres dimidias seliones in Fregrene 
unam selionem que vocatur le stjrweylond 
unam selionem que vocatur Edmundislond 
unam selionem que vocatur le Schoterdichehevedlond 

^ Add. Char. 50008. The q>ecification runs as follows: — 

" Dedm •dionet tern iaccates in camfMs de CUvertoo, tiz: 
duas dimidkt t^lioDet In Uhretdak 
et unam tcylionem iaccatem super le stonibuUe 
eC unam t^Uonem iacentem super le Lowe 
et unam seyliooem extra le Lowe lacentem in Brerifurlong 
et unam tQrlioaem lacentem in crofto de Claverton 
et duas seytiooet lacentes in le Cruftinfe 
et duas dimidias sdiones lacentes in le Wythines 

et duas dimidias sdiones lacentes supra le Leefdd iuxta campum de Ekicstoa 
et unam dimidiam sejrloaem lacentem In Lonfefurlonc 
et unam dimidiam seykmem lacentem iuxta Swartingesfcld." 


et totam illam terrain que vocatur le Bruches . . . inter 
terram . . . et terram.* 

The noteworthy peculiarity here is the naming of the selions. In 
the case of the four headlands the use of individual appellations 
is, of course, not unusual. Specifications, however, do not stop 
with them, since the entire list is similarly distinguished. One 
can see why three adjacent selions, perhaps a small furlong, should 
be denominated Cleylondes, but it is different with the selion 
called Brocstanlond and the half-selion called Cleyhalflond. 
Since most selions of the charter Were named, the usage must have 
prevailed throughout the common field of Newton. If so, this 
cannot have been very great in extent. No midland township 
designated separately each of its two or three thousand selions, 
finding it task enough to name the furlongs. The nomenclature 
at Newton thus points to an open arable field of restricted area, 
one in which individual selions might assume importance. 

Still another characteristic of thirteenth-century Cheshire 
charters is the brevity of their descriptions of open field. The 
terriers dted above are exceptional in length, few others enumer- 
ating as many as six selions.^ To be sure, the selions were often 
not accompanied by messuages, and hence may not have been 
complete holdings. At times, however, the house is mentioned, 
as when St. Werburgh acquired at Chester half a burgage tene- 
ment to which were attached a selion and two butts,' or when 
at Coddington a messuage was accompanied by five " half-lands " 
and a half-acre of meadow.^ Small grants to monasteries are, 

^ Add. Char. 50G40, temp. £dw. I. 

* A typical grant to St. Werburgh is as follows (Harl. MS. 2062, f. 17): — 

" vi sdiooes in Elton, scilicet, 

unam adionem et dimidiam in campo qui didtur Broan 

onam selioncm in campo qui dicitur Bothum 

unam aelionem que . . . eztenditur usque ad mignim viam 

et unam selionem que vocatur Naylont 

et unam selionem que vocatur crongeflont 

et dimidiam seliooem que iacet vemu metam de yuia." 

< ** Dimidiam burgagiam extra portam acquflonarem Cestrie et unam selionem, 
fldlicet tertiam, a fossa iuzta viam que tendit versus flokeresbroc et ii bottas [buUas 
in the maigin] iacentes inter terram suam et . . . '' (ibid., f. 166). 

* ** Mesuagium cum ima dimidia Landa iacenti inter terram . . . et terram 
• • ., et unam alteram dimidiam Landam iuxta Le Ladeway, et imam dimidiam 


of course, numerous in midland cartularies. Yet longer entimera- 
tions are nearly always to be found in them, and the absence 
of such in the cartulary of St. Werburgh tends once more to show 
that large holdings in the fields were imusual. 

Not only is it possible to infer from thirteenth-century charters 
that Cheshire open fields were small, but these documents give 
no indication that the selions were ever grouped by fields. The 
nearest approach to such a suggestion is the location of three 
acres " in campo de Aston quarum una iacet super longum gale- 
won et alia super le middilfeld et«tertia in campo versus trente." ^ 
The first of these field names, however, together with the small 
area transferred, does not argue strongly for a three-field arrange- 
ment. Such fields as occasionally appear in other terriers are 
likely to be coordinate with furlongs or with areas variously 
named. Nowhere did two or three larger fields like those of the 
midlands gather within their boimds the selions which were con- 
veyed. Chiefly for this reason, as in the case of the coimties 
already discussed in this chapter, we are justified in concluding 
that the midland system had no hold upon the borderland of the 
river Dee. 

It is possible, further, to discern in the charters of St. Werburgh 
that even in the thirteenth century the abbots were busy exchang- 
ing and consolidating parcels. Sometimes lands newly given to 
them lay near those which they already held. At Manley, for 
example, the two and one-half selions given by Robert Fitz 
Roger lay '' in asponesfurlong, quanun ima iacet iuxta sellionem 
que vocatur Aleyneshevedlond et alia iuxta sellionem quam 
henricus frater eius dedit dicto abbati aule propinquiorem et 
dimidia sellio [est] propinquior terre dicti abbatis in eodem 
campo." * 

Elsewhere the abbots made exchanges. At Leese, Abbot 
Simon (i 265-1 289) gave in exchange for " iii acras et i rodam 
iacentes inter vi landas suas et unxmi assartiun " two messuages 

L a nd a m proximAin Le Ladeway, et duas dimidias Landas extendeDtes usque . . . 
Westxnere oun una dimidia acra prati " (.\dd. Char. 50290). 

> HarL MS. K>6i, f. 66. 

• Ibid., f. n (1165-1239). 


and two crofts '^ cum ii landis et ii buttis in le hedfeld.'' ^ At 
Bromborough, Abbot Radulphus (1141^. 1157) exchanged on 
different occasions "unam sellionem et imam Buttam ... in 
Ranesfeld . . . pro ima sellione iacenti in campo qui vocatur 
le Churchcroft; duas dimidia.s selliones que vocantur suchacre- 
sendes . . . pro ima sellione et dimidia iacentibus in le chirche- 
croft . . . ; unam dimidiam sellionem in manislawefeld . . . pro 
ima sellione et dimidia iacenti in le chirchecroft.'' ^ Sometimes 
it is evident that the exchanges looked toward consolidation for 
both parties. The same abbot exchanged with '' Henricxis filius 
heyle," at Weston, " pro iii selionibus in tachemedwe . . . sub 
crofto dicti Henrid ... iii seliones in cliues . . . iuxta cultu- 
ram abbatis et imam foreram super morshul et dimidiam rodam 
super pastmeslande in territorio de Aston. . . . " • 

Exchanges like these indicate a field system which was not 
rigid but which easily inclined to consolidation and enclosure. 
At Lawton a holding given to the abbey in the thirteenth cen- 
tury was already a compact area, comprising a messuage and 
gard^i '' cum iiii buttis ex una parte dicti gardini et aliis iiii ex 
altera iacentibus.'' * There is no reason why the open-field strips 
of a tenement, inconsiderable at best, should not have under- 
gone a process of consolidation; they were inclined toward it 
both by their small number and by the absence of any grouping 
of the selions by fields. Since consolidation was so brief a 
process and was opposed by no inflexible field arrangements, one 
need not be surprised that it was initiated before the end of the 
Middle Ages. 

Chester thus allies itself more closely with Wales than with 
the territory to the east. It appears as a county largely en- 
closed in the sixteenth century and almost entirely so in the 
eighteenth. Vestiges of open common field in Tudor surveys, 
however, suggest that at an earlier time most hamlets probably 
had a certain amount of it, and the thirteenth-century testimony, 
particularly that from the region near Chester, supports such a 
belief. This evidence reveals holdings that seldom comprised 

1 HarL MS. 2062, f. 226. < Ibid., f. 8. 

* Ibid., f. 206. « Ibid., f. 24. 


so many as a dozen intermixed selions, and township fields in 
which the strips were so few that at times each of them could 
attain the dignity of a special designation. Nowhere was there 
a grouping of strips by fields as in the midlands, and nowhere is 
foimd mention of rights of pasture over a fallow field. The 
arrangement was like that which in Scotland, Wales, and Ire- 
land was called nmrig. Since in Cheshire there is no trace of 
continued or recurrent division of holdings among heirs, some 
early allotment of the common lands before the time of written 
records must have been final. In the twelfth and thirteenth 
century exchanges were being made and the first steps toward 
consolidation were already taking place. To the flexibility of 
Celtic open-field arrangements, therefore, is probably to be 
attributed the early enclosure of the arable in the county, so 
far as enclosure did not take place directly from the forest 
state. Such an explanation is further substantiated by the 
small size of most closes, as seen, for example, in the survey of 
Macclesfield manor.* To some extent, then, the sevaiteenth- 
century appearance of the fields of the coimty is traceable to the 
early existence of runrig. 

Devon and Cornwall 


There are several Devonshire surveys dating from the late 
sixteenth or the early seventeenth century, but too frequently 
they omit exact information about the condition of the fields. 
A survey of Topsham, for instance, though usually explaining 
that the " parcelle " were doses and sometimes adding that 
they were arable, in about one-fourth of the instances leaves 
them undescribed.* Since these undescribed parcels were 
relatively large, we may infer that the usual designation " dausa " 

^ Cf. mbove, p. 250. 

* Rents, and Survs., Ro. 169 (i6ti). A typical holding b that of Hdena Havile, 
widow, who had a house and staUe with garden containing 2 acres; doses of 
arable called Butt parke and Sanddl, containing 5 acres and one acre; other doses 
called Whittwell, Greeidand, and Longland, each containing 2 acres; a pared 
called the half-acre; a pared of marsh containing 8 acres called Idons; and pasture 
in the marsh for twenty sheep. 


was carelessly omitted.^ One feels on safer ground in surveys 
like that of Sherford, in which all parcels are carefully labelled 
orchards, closes, or " parkes/' * The application of the term 
" park " to a close of arable is characteristic of Devonshire, and 
its constant employment in the survey of Vielstone and Kingdon 
indicates the enclosed character of these townships.' Porlock, 
too, a Somersetshire township on the edge of Exmoor, resembled 
its Devonshire neighbors in being entirely enclosed.* 

Despite the testimony of most sixteenth-century documents 
to the enclosure of Devonshire fields, there is an occasional hint 
that imendosed arable might still be found. Of the manors 
of the marchioness of Dorset, which were surveyed in 15 Henry 
Vni, most lay in Somerset, but some were in Cornwall and 
Devon.* Although none of the surveys of the Devon manors 
are very explicit about the condition of the arable, it appears 
from the description of Brixham that many of the tenants held 
each one " furlong," • comprising twenty acres of pasture and 
ten of arable, and that appurtenant to each furlong was 
" communia in communibus campis " for sixty sheep, two cows, 
and one horse.^ The " communes campi " here pretty clearly 
bespeak open arable field, for the phrase was almost never applied 
to the common waste, and where it occurs elsewhere in this 
group of surveys it refers to certain townships in Somerset which 
lay in open-field neighborhoods. Inasmuch as no similar remark 
about common fields is vouchsafed regarding the other five 
Devon and Cornish townships, these by implication were en- 
closed. Each of them contained more pasture than arable, but 

^ To be sure, some six parcels were in Ruslimore, but they were too large (7, 4, 
5, 2, 5, and 3 acres req)ectively) to suggest open-field strips. The first three were 
arable, another was a dose of pasture, while two are not described. 

* Add. MS. 21605, £f. 36-43 (1606). The same volume contains (£f. iS-24) 
another survey of Sherford written in a hand earlier by a generation; but this one 
neg^lects to say whether its " farthings " were open or enclosed. 

' Exch. Aug. Of., M. B. 358, ff. 64-74, 6 Jas. I. The designations, for example, 
are North park, Lea park, Temsty park, Wall park. 

* Exch. Aug. Of., M. B. 385, flf. 97-106, 17 Hen. VIII. 

* Ibid., £f. 112-208. Most important were Brixham, Woodford, and Shewte in 
Devon, and Trewerdreth, Trelawne, and Wadfast in Cornwall. 

* I. e. " feriing/' for the meaning of which cf. bdow, pp. 264-266. 
^ Exch. Aug. Of., M. B. 385, f. 200 sq. 


arable and pasture differed little in annual value. Both were 
rated at from 12 d. to 16 d. the acre, whereas the arable of an 
open-field midland township was seldom worth more than 6d. 
the acre. 

A survey of the extensive Cornish and Devon estates of Lord 
Dynham was made in 1566,^ describing in considerable detail 
more than twenty manors, among others the great manor of Hart- 
land on the northwestern coast. Holdings here are located in 
large areas or by hamlets, and the parcels of which they were 
composed are described as closes. Such was the case with the 
typical holding printed by Mr. Chope, that of Agnes Dayman, 
situated at the hamlet of " Cheristawe." At Cheristawe were 
five similar tenements with areas of 21, iif , 21, 14^, and 25 acres, 
a total of 123 acres for the hamlet.* No township of the manor 
had in it more holdings than this, and usually there were fewer. 
So far as can be seen, the manor of Hartland consisted of hamlets 
the fields of which were small and enclosed. 

A few phrases used in other of the Dynham surveys, however, 
demand attention. At Dsington, William Prowse held " with- 
out copy one holding with a garden and one ferling of land, 
containing by estimation 30 acres, but he does not know where 
they are because they lie among the lands of the lords and of 
George Fourde, esq. [lord of the other half of the manor]."* 

^ The MS. was in 1902 in the possession of C. D. Heathcote, of Poriock, and 
has been described by R. P. Chope in two papers published in the Transactums of 
the Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, etc., vols, zzziv (1902) 
and xliii (191 1). In the second paper, on ** The Lord Dynham's Lands," Mr. 
Chope sketches summarily the surveys of most of the Devonshire estates; but in 
the first one, entitled " The Eariy Ifistoiy of the Manor of Hartland," he trans- 
cribes all details and illustrates locations by a valuable map. 

* Ibid., zzziv. 438: " Agnes Dayman, widow, . . . holds by copy dated . . . 
13 Henry Vm ... a half-ferling and one dawe of land, with their appurtenances^ 
in Cheristawe, ... to which belong 

X bouse ...» X barn, x garden, and x orchard mntainmg i rood 

a dooet called the Crosse parkes containinf 4 acres 

X close called Swetenham ronUinmg 2 acres 

X close called the EUll parke rontamini 6 acres 

X dose bewest the towne containing 9 acres 

X dose called ye Brodewcy parke fontainiwg 3 acres 

X dose called the Higher parke mntsining a acres 

X dose called ye Unrer parke mntsining 3 acres 

and in the meadow i acre." 

< Ibid., dilL 278. 


In the accoiint of another holding of this manor occur 
similar statements about intermixed parcels. The customary 
tenement of Agnes Orchard included "divers parcels of land 
called lez ShoteSy lying in the common about the bounds called 
lez landscores with the lands of William Dyggen, customary tenant 
of this manor, containing in all 30 acres of land in the common 
of Idetordowne [Haytor Down]." * Perhaps the translation 
should nm, " divers parcels . . . lying in common " (if the orig- 
inal is in communia). However that be, the significant item, 
apart from the assertion that certain lands were intermixed, is 
implicit in the phrase " lez londscores." In the same manor 
Hugh Dyggen also held " divers parcels of land lying together 
about the Londscore next Idetordowne, containing in all 60 
acres." * 

Explanation of the meaning of the phrase " lez londscores " is 
to be had from an item relative to the Dynham manor of Wood- 
huish in Brixham. Here, the survey notes, " the landes ... for 
the most parte lyeth by londes score in twoe commen feldes." 
The holdings were rated in ferlings, to each of which were 
as^gned some 27 acres of " arable land lying at large in the fields 
and lez Breckes.*^ Altogether there were 652 acres.' These state- 
ments point clearly to open common fields in which parcels lay 
intermixed, or " by londescore." The use of the latter phrase 
at Ilsington, therefore, accords with the declaration that Agnes 
Orchard's lands lay intermixed with those of William Dyggen. 
Upon two of the twenty-five manors or estates of Lord Dyn- 
ham which were situated in Devon and Cornwall we are thus 
assured of the existence of common fields.* At Woodhuish in 
Brixham they were extensive, and Brixham, it will be remem- 
bered, was that one of the Devonshire manors of the marchioness 
of Dorset in which common fields have already been discerned. 
Brixham and Woodhuish are adjacent townships lying on the 
southern coast at the mouth of the river Dart. 

* Devon. Assoc., etc., Trans. ^ xliii. 279-280. 

« Ibid. » Ibid, 281. 

^ There were also " common meadows,'' as at Wilmington (ibid., 274). Nearly 
all the Dynham manoTB comprised wastes upon which the tenants had rights of 


At Osington the intermixed lands lay on the edge of a common 
waste called Haytor Down. Equally unusual in situation, though 
in a different way, is the " Great Field " at Braunton. This 
Slater has described,^ but a fuller account is available.^ Braunton 
is a village in northwestern Devon, near Barnstaple, lying a 
little inland from the estuary of the river Taw. Bordering the 
river and the sea are marsh lands known as Braunton Burrows. 
Between the marshes and the village lies the " Great Field." 
'' Its surface," runs the local accoimt, '^ is a dead flat rising but 
little above the level of the marshes, and- the soil is doubtless by 
origin a natural reclamation from the bed of the estuary. The 
whole field is imder arable cultivation in small unenclosed plots." 
The Braunton rate book of 1889 states that its area was then 
3S4§ acres, occupied by 56 proprietors and lying in 491 strips. 
The strips, each containing from one-half an acre to two acres, 
were gathered into sixteen shots,' and those of each proprietor 
were non-contiguous. All holdings were " unqualified freehold, 
subject to no seigniorial rights or claims." The lord of the manor 
had in 1875 owned a considerable portion of the Great Field 
in seventy- three plots containing each about an acre, but he 
afterward sold them. Slater says that there are no common 
rights over the field. 

The peculiarities manifested in this description give a pos- 
sible due to the origin of the Great Field. Its position on the 
map and its low-lying character suggest that it is land at some 
time reclaimed from the marshes; the two other manors in 
Braunton not adjacent to the marshes have no open field. Fur- 
ther, the tenure by which the field is held points in the same 
direction: only newly-reclaimed lands would be likely to be free- 
hold, subject to no seigniorial rights. Probably in lieu of such 
rights the lord of the manor had received some fraction of the 
parceb. The extensive scattering of the strips may have been 
due to the gradual reclamation of the area, each furlong having 
been subdivided by lord and freeholders as it was improved. 

^ Engfisk Peasoniry, p. 250. 
* Devon. Assoc., etc., Tratts,, ud, aoi (1889). 

< Lime tree, Harditdi, Renpit, Long Hedge Lands, BroM^Mtth, Lane end, Cutta- 
buRow, Hi^er Thorn, etc 


Fertile alluvial land would need little fallowing, and continuous 
cropping would leave no opportunity for the exercise of the 
right of pasturage during a fallow year. If these conjectures be 
correct, Braimton Great Field was of relatively recent origin. 
Perhaps the " londscores " near the common at Ilsington were 
also recently improved lands, in this instance taken from the 

In Cornwall, as in Devon, the Jacobean surveys tell of en- 
closed townships, occasionally hinting at the existence of common 
arable fields. A long account of the manor of Launceston, which 
describes leaseholds in many hamlets, always refers to the parcels 
of the tenements as closes, sometimes adding that they were 
meadow or pasture.^ In a companion survey, however, a signif- 
icant statement is made relative to Leigh Durrant. *' Some parte 
of this Mannor," the surveyor explains, *Tieth in Common fields 
which is hardly founde in any Mannor of his highness eels in 
Comewall; " * but no description of these common fields is vouch- 
safed. We come upon others in a survey of Camanton,' 
where, in 4 James I, 70 of the 960 acres accoimted for still lay 
in some seven " common fields," of which at least three were 
closes. Down close contained 12 acres, held by four persons; 
Furze dose, 8f acres in the hands of three tenants; and New 
dose, 5 acres with a single occupant. The remaining '^ common 
fidds " were West, North, South, and Churchway, each having 
an area of from 5 to 20 acres.^ Five times the acres in common 
fidd or common dose are said to be " in stiduneale," a phrase 
pointing to the intermixture of tenants' parcels. If we inquire 
into the origin of this situation, the names of the common doses 
at once suggest appropriation from the waste. Other items in 
the survey indicate that a " Downe " had recently been allotted 
and improved. Twelve times there is reference to acres of 
common pasture ** in le Downs " or '' in communi campo vocato 

^ Land Rev., M. B. 207, fif. 149-213, 5 Jas. I. 

s Ibid., f. 436. 

» Exch. Aug. Of., M. B. 388, flf. 135-171- 

^ In West fidd six tenants had 19} acres; in North fidd seven had 15! acres; 
in Churchway four had 3} acres; in South fidd two had si acres. A few acres lay 
simi^y ** in communi campo." 


le Downes "; and occasionally this ** communis pastura" changes 
into '' terra arabilis et pastura/' from which it is only a step to 
the " Downe close " with its holdings alwajrs arable. 

This description, joined with that of Braimton Great Field 
and that of the landscores at Ilsington, seems ground for believ- 
ing, not only that the common fields of Devon and ComwaU in 
the sixteenth century were few, but that some of them were not 
of ancient origin. About the antiquity of certain of the fields 
at Camanton, and of the still larger ones at Brixham and Wood- 
huish, we know little. Nor have we information about the 
distribution of parcels in these Devon and Cornish fields, save 
that given by the nineteenth-century appearance of Braimton 
Great Field. This had by no means a two- or three-field aspect, 
the tenants' parcels being apparently distributed throughout 
it with the same irregularity as prevailed in the counties of 
the northwest. 

Tiuning to the earlier Devon and Cornish evidence, we find 
two local units much in evidence, the '' ferling " and the Cornish 
" acre." In general utility the ferling corresponded with the 
midland virgate, replacing it as the fourth part of a larger unit. 
The larger unit itself was sometimes called a virgate; in one 
of the fines, from a total of six virgates at Dene there were sub- 
tracted two ferlings and two and one-half acres,^ while near 
Exeter we hear of the transfer of a half-virgate and a ferling.' 
In Cornwall, according to an early fine which carefuUy states 
that the stmi of half an acre and two ferlings equalled an acre, 
the ferling was the foiuth part of a Cornish acre.' Its area of 
course varied as did that of the unit of which it was the fourth 
part. At Brixham, as we have seen, it contained 30 acres; ^ and 
at the end of the sixteenth century this was its size at Wood- 
brooke, at AUerton, and at Sherford.* In a Devon fine of 22 
Henry HI three ferlings equalled 43 acres.^ In ComwaU, in 1337, 

* Pcd Fin., 40-9-164 (12 John). 

s Cott. MSB., Vitd. D DC, f . 1686 (a fourteenth<entuiy cartulary). 
» Pcd. Fin., 31-2-20. 

* Cf. above, p. 259. 

* Rents, and Survs., Portf. 6/61; Add. MS. 21605, £f. 19, 24. 

* Ped. Fin., 40-12-226. 


the ferling was said to contain from 4 to 5 acres, the Cornish 
acre being only four times as great; ^ but in a rental of 6 
James I the Cornish acre was larger, three-fourths of it con- 
taining 70 English acres.^ Thus, at different times and in 
different places the ferling varied in extent between 4 and 30 
English acres. 

Whatever may have been its size, the important question as 
regards field systems is whether it was a compact area or was 
composed of scattered strips. The best evidence on this point 
is from certain descriptions contained in a fifteenth-century 
cartulary of Torre abbey. At one time we discover that a 
half-ferling of unknown size is completely bounded as one block; ' 
again a ferling is said to lie '^ propinquior ad orientem terre pre- 
dictum canonicorum " ; elsewhere a half-ferling Ues "in hoc- 
rigge," and another half-ferling " m parte orientaU de Chinrigge 
iiixta aquam";* finally we hear of a half-ferling " imde ima 
dawa [dose] vocatur Dodemmannesland et alia dawa vocatur 
Wluesland." * In an early fine twelve ferlings of the manor 
of Coombe are so described as to imply that they were blocks in 
different parts of the village floor, and that with them were trans- 
ferred the resident villein households. In Coleford there was a 
ferling and a half, at Tocumbe a ferling and a half, at Fostefelde 
two ferlings, at Haldestane four, at Fishull one, at Blakewille one, 
at la Grutte one.* In Limerick, in 22 Henry III, two ferlings 
were " in Lange furlang " and " in Sholdedime." ^ Nowhere 

* Sir John Maclean, The Parochial and Family History of the Deanery of Trigg 
Minor (3 vob., London, 1873-79), iii. 45 sq. 

* Rents, and Survs., Portf. 2/33. 

' Exch. K. R., M. B. 19, f. 256: " Dlud dimidium ferlingum terre . . . que se 
eztendit a fossato . . . usque magnum iter . . . quod dudt versus Teyngnewike 
. . . et iaoet iuzta terram ecclesie de Hanok et se extendit usque regale iter quod 
dudt versus hywis et iacet iuzta terram W. de Femdon . . . et iterum iuzta 
pratum sub Assdonde . . . et iterum iuzta comerium curtillagii ubi facte simt 

* Ibid., f. 576. 

* Ibid., f. 336. 

* Joseph Himter, Fines sive Pedes Finium (Record Com., 2 vob., 1835-44), ii. 
46 (10 Rich. I). Coombe and Coleford are two adjacent Devonshire hamlets, but 
the other names are not applied to hamlets in this neighborhood. 

^ Pcd. Fin., 40-12-239. 


in the early fines and charters is there anything to indicate that 
the ferling was composed of acre or half-acre or quarter-acre 

Devon and Cornwall thus assume in the thirteenth- as weU as 
in the sixteenth-century documents the appearance of coimties 
the arable lands of which were very largely enclosed. The feet 
of fines and the charters from this comer of England are in 
marked contrast with those from the midlands and even with 
those from the northwest. From all other English counties 
(except perhaps from Kent and Essex) a considerable number 
of fines and charters disclose on examination at least a few 
which record each its list of small non-adjacent parcels of arable 
land. The exceptional character of the Devon and Cornish 
documents would lead us to believe that even runrig was un- 
known in these two counties, were it not for the testimony of the 
sixteenth-century surveys.* How imcertain is this testimony 
relative to the extent and antiquity of open arable fields we have 
seen, but about the existence of intermixed strips it is dear. It 
suggests that Devon and Cornwall more closely resembled 
Cheshire and Wales than any other region thus far examined. 
In the valley of the Dee were townships which had common open 
arable fields, small in extent, like those of the southwest. So 
far as the latter were really andent, a characteristic possibly 
attributable to those of Brixham, it is perhaps allowable to call 
them. Celtic in their affinities and to assume that endosure 
occurred early, as it did in most parts of Wales. With these 
inferences, the most probable that we can draw in view of the 
perplexing evidence, Devon and Cornwall take their place along 
with the other coimties of western or northern England which 
in their field arrangements were subject to Cdtic influence. 

^ A parcel of land in a suburb of Exeter was once designated " unum sullonem " 
(Cott. MS., Vitel. D DC, f. 138), but it may not have been part of a ferling or have 
lain in open field. 

* It will also be noticed that in the phrases quoted in the preceding paragraph 
the term " rigge ** was used to designate a furlong. 




A suiOiARY of the results of the preceding examination of field 
arrangements in the coimties of the Celtic border is now possible. 
It wiU be remembered that Scottish, Irish, and Welsh fields, 
differing as they mig^t in some respects, yet had in common 
that which makes it possible to speak of a Celtic field system. 
Although this system was, without doubt, originally one of open 
fields, the absence of enclosure did not constitute its distinctive 
characteristic. Non-Celtic fields were often open, and Celtic 
fields, even after enclosure, sometimes bore traces of their origin. 
More noteworthy than the absence of enclosure was the size of 
the Celtic township or townland, the continued subdivision of 
it among co-heirs or co-tenants, the distribution throughout it 
of the parcels of the tenants' holdings, and the method by which 
it was tilled. In the coimties considered in this chapter certain 
of these characteristics appear more clearly than others. • 

The small township with its hamlet settlement we have seen, 
behind various disguises, revealed in Cumberland documents. 
Since other enumerations manifest a tendency to be similarly 
obscure, it is difficult to determine from them alone the region 
characterized by this form of occupation. In the long seventeenth- 
century survey of the Lancashire manor of Rochdale, for instance, 
the hamlets themselves were so complex as to contain within 
their somewhat spacious boundaries several nuclei of settlement.^ 

^ Heniy Fishwick, Survey of the Manor of Rochdale (Chetham Soc, 1913). 
One division of the manor, known as Spotland, contained six hamlets and 
" Spotlande towne," the areas being specified as follows (pp. 163 sq.) : — 









Acres oC 



Fttlfncr ... 





























Spotland (Umne) 





The units of settlement named on the naodem map as lying within the above 
areas number some fifty. 


In view of the deceptive brevity of written documents, it is 
best, unless in each instance it be possible to investigate the 
stated areas, to take the less specific evidence which is furnished 
by the modem map. From an examination of this we shall have 
no hesitation in pronoimcing that the coimties examined in the 
foregoing chapter, except Northumberland, were characterized 
by the hamlet type of settlement. Indeed, we shall have to 
include other coimties as well, a circumstance that leads to a 
further distinction. 

Although the hamlet was typical of Celtic settlement, its 
app>earance was not necessarily accompanied by a Celtic field 
system. Two coimties of the Welsh border, Herefordshire and 
Shropshire, have already illustrated the divergence. On the map 
they are dotted with tiny groups of houses, which, though often 
bearing English names, are typical hamlets, while an analysis 
of the parish of Marden has shown us several of these grouped 
into a larger imit. Yet the tillage of Herefordshire and Shrop- 
shire hamlet fields was similar to that of the midlands; and, 
though irregularities soon arose in these fields and the decay of 
the midland system occurred earlier than it did farther east, the 
situation in the two counties assures us that hamlet settlements 
with inconsiderable fields did not necessarily imply Celtic runrig. 

A second characteristic of the Celtic field system was its readi- 
ness to subdivide holdings, farms, or tovmlands among co-heirs 
or co-tenants in such a way that each received a share in every 
quality of the soil and held his arable strips under a form of 
intermixed occupancy known as nmrig or nmdale. In Scotland 
and Ireland such subdivision continued throughout the eighteenth 
century; in Wales the co-tenancy of the fourteenth century was 
abandoned in the sixteenth. In northern and western England 
little evidence is as yet available to demonstrate the prevalence 
there of the transmission of land to co-heirs; scholars have merely 
noted that the custom of certain sokes or manors in Shropshire, 
Herefordshire, and Monmouthshire at a relatively late time pre- 
scribed transmission by gavelkind.^ Until further investigation 

1 T. Robinson, The Common Law of Kent ^ or the Customs of Gavelkind (5th ed., by 
C. I. Elton and H. J. H. Mackay, London, 1897), p. 33. 


has determined the localities in which such a usage prevailed and 
the degree to which Celtic influence is responsible therefor,^ no 
generalizations are possible. From what evidence we have it 
would seem that in most districts of the north and west the sub- 
division of socage and villein holdings, if it ever prevailed, early 
gave place to impartible succession, the custom which from the 
thirteenth century at least was usual in the midlands. 

Of greater assistance in estimating Celtic influence upon the 
field system of English counties is a third trait of Celtic agricul- 
ture. This is the irregular disposition of the scattered parcels of 
the tenants' holdings throughout the cultivated area of a town- 
ship; for, if it be assumed that an early subdivision of the land 
among co-heirs became permanent in the Anglicized border 
counties, such disposition would be for us the only reminder of 
the earlier field-history of the region. If it chanced that the 
dispersed parcels were in certain places reconsolidated (or if in 
some townships a division had never taken place), we should 
expect to find there enclosed areas. When, consequently, Devon, 
Cornwall, and Cheshire appear as counties largely enclosed in the 
sixteenth century, this phenomenon is explicable as a normal 
manifestation of the Celtic system. If some traces of arable 
common fields still remained within their bounds, these too are 
normal phenomena. Although in the southwest some such fields 
may have been due to improvement of marsh or down-land, other 
tracts are not easily so explained. At Brixham in Devon, as 
well as at several places in Cheshire, there seem to have been 
ancient arable fields that had long been characterized by inter- 
mixed holdings. Cheshire terriers of the thirteenth century give 
details which enable us to see that these fields were not of the 
midland type. In structure they were, on the contrary, like 

^ Two vague passages in the laws of Cnut which may imply that partible sue- 
cessioii was the Anglo-Saxon usage of the eleventh centuiy are as follows: ** [If a 
man die intestate] Ac beo be his dihte seo aeht gesc3rf t swy)$e rihte wife 7 dldum 7 
nehmagum, aelcum be |7aere mae6e, |>e him to gebyrige. . . . And se man, pe on 
]Kim fyrdunge aetforan his hlaforde fealle, . . . f on )>a erfenuman to lande 7 to 
aehtan 7 scyftan hit swyCe rihte" (Cnut II 70, 78 [1027-1034], Liebermann, 
GesetUf i. 356, 364). Chapter 34 of the Lets WUMme (1090-1135) b of similar 
purport: " Si home mort senz devise, si departent les enfans Terit^ entre sei per 
uwel " (ibid, i, 514). Cf. Maitland, Domesday Book and Beyond ^ p. 145. 


those of Lancashire and Cumberland, regions in which open 
fields survived longer and are more fully described. 

K we turn to these two northern counties, in neither do we 
find such a grouping of scattered parcels as the two- or three-field 
s)^tem imposed. In them the strips of the holdings lay, to be 
sure, dispersed throughout the arable area, but the arrangement 
can properly be called nothing more than runrig, since nowhere 
is there any grouping by fields, whether two or four, three or six. 
In Cumberland it is even possible that the strips of a holding 
were at times segregated within one part of the township's 
arable. Whatever may have been the usual juxtaposition of a 
tenant's arable strips in all these western counties (and about 
this there is still considerable doubt) , the absence of the midland 
alignment is a characteristic common to the field arrangements of 
Cumberland and Lancashire, to those of Cornwall, Devon, and 
Cheshire, and to those of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. Further 
emphasis is put upon this characteristic by the absence in terriers 
and surveys of any intimation that the villagers desired to have 
a amUnuaus stretch of their intermixed arable lying fallow at 
one time, as was the practice under the midland system. Al- 
though one hears much about rights of pasture over common, 
moor, and fell, such rights are never s|>ecified relative to a fallow 
field. Thus pasturage arrangements in the counties imder con- 
sideration do not point to midland usages any more than do the 
relative positions assumed by the strips of the customary holdings. 

If in both these respects the counties of the northwest and the 
southwest show Celtic rather than midland fields, of a final 
characteristic of Scottish agriculture — namely, the temporary 
tillage of parcels of the waste or outfield during a series of 
years, followed by an abandonment of the same parceb for a 
corresponding period of time — they furnish little evidence. To 
find unmistakable traces of such a custom in Elngland it is 
necessary to turn to Northumberland, where its existence is 
established by two or three brief descriptions. Without much 
doubt the same practice prevailed in Cumberland, since sixteenth- 
century surveys record there the subdivision among tenants of 
areas newly improved from the waste. It seems likely, further- 


more, that the custom fell into disuse much earlier in the English 
counties than in Scotland. We should, perhaps, think of the 
two regions as practicing the same system at first but develop- 
ing it diflferently. A Scottish township continued to treat its 
outfield in the primitive manner, but also set aside a small 
infield, which by the use of manure was kept under continuous 
tillage; a township of the English border counties set aside 
no infield, but tilled in a \miform manner all land which at 
any time came under the plough. In England, however, a 
developing agriculture, since it did not create an infield, began, 
we may suppose, to demand that the periods of productivity of 
the improved furlongs be prolonged at the expense of the periods 
of fallow. In due course as much as two-thirds of the available 
arable may have been brought imder yearly cultivation. If this 
were achieved, it would become easy to shift the location of the 
fallow furlongs so as to bring them together into a compact fallow 
field. Thereby the township would practically adopt the three- 
field system, a transformation which may at times have taken 
place in Northumberland. If this was the case, the county is to 
be looked upon as transitional in its field arrangements, marking 
the passage from the Celtic to the midland system. 

Whatever may be the value of this hypothesis, it seems 
pretty clear that the Celtic system made its influence felt in 
one way or another throughout all the counties discussed in 
this chapter, and in all probability throughout Monmouth, 
Westmorland, and western Yorkshire as well. Generally speak- 
ing, then, the counties of the northwest and southwest, none 
of them far removed from Celtic lands, constitute that part of 
England which came within the sphere of influence of the Celtic 
field system. 


The Kentish System 

It will be convenient to begin our examination of the field arrange- 
ments of the southeast of England with a study of Kent. Doubt 
has been expressed whether this county was ever in open field. 
Meitzen, with an eye upon its scattered farmhouses, which con- 
trast with the nucleated villages of open-field districts, suggested 
a field system of Celtic origin, similar to that which, he thou^t, 
prevailed between the Rhine and the Weser and was largely one 
of enclosures.^ Slater foimd no parliamentary acts for the en- 
closure of arable in Kent;* and in 1794 Boys was able to report 
to the Board of Agriculture, " There are no conmion fields in this 
county, and but few common pastures in this part of it [the 
east]." » 

As early as the sixteenth century, indeed, Kent is referred to 
as one of the counties " wheare most Inclosures be,"* a statement 
that may be verified by several manorial surveys from the end 
of that century and the beginning of the next. A " measure- 
ment " of three manors in the parishes of Cranbrook, Goudhurst, 
and Hawkhurst describes large demesnes and " fermes " appar- 
ently all enclosed,* Similarly enclosed were the manors of 
Nether Bilsington (near Romney Marsh and consisting largely 
of marsh and woodland), Neates Court (in pasture), and Sond- 
risshe.* Throughout a hundred pages of sixteenth-century sur- 

* Siedelung und Agrarwesen, iL 122, 54. • English Peasantry ^ p. 230. 

• J. Boys, Central View of the Agriculture of the County of Kent (London, i794)» 
p. 44. Eighteenth-century references to open-field parcels are rare, although they 
do occur. In 1770, for example, a Mr. Holmes at Henhurst owed tithes from 6| 
acres of fallow, which was " part of fa] common field '' (Archaeotogfa Cantiana, 
xzvii. 124). 

* John Hales, A Discourse of the Common Weal of this Realm of England 
(1549, ed. E. Lamond, Cambridge, 1893), p. 49. 

» Rawl. MS., B 341, ff. 31 sq, (1587), 

• Add. MS. 37019 (1567); Rents, and Survs., Portf. 9/43, 6 Jas. I; Land Rev., 
M. B. 258, ff. 154-164, I Mary. 



veys relating to Kentish manors or townships and collected in one 
vdume, the tale, except for an occasional item, is one of enclo- 
sures.* A long survey of Northboum likewise speaks almost 
entirely of closes.* All this, however, does not necessarily imply 
that sixteenth-century doses in Kent formed compact estates, 
as one might at first infer. 

All Souls College, as owner of several Kentish estates, had maps 
of them made in the years 1589-1593. On the maps of the prop- 
erties which lay in and about Romney Marsh, the parcels, both 
large and small, appear as plats rather then open-field strips and 
for the most part were consolidated.* With two manors which 
were situated near the mouth of the Medway in the northern part 
of the county the case was different. The manor of Horsham, in 
the villages of Upchurch, Alteram, and Ham, lay to some extent 
intermixed with other properties, and this characteristic is pro- 
nounced in the plan of a manor at Newington,* reproduced in the 
accompan}dng sketch. 

Such lack of contiguity between the parcels of a holding as is 
shown in these instances suggests an earlier system not charac- 
terized by consolidation. That sixteenth-century closes were 
sometimes of recent origin is clear from an account of the manor 
of Westcourt or Sibertswold, which, it is said, consisted of 
demesnes and services. " The demesnes lye contiguously to 
another and they are all now in Enclosures "; the services were 
due from some 420 acres in sixteen closes, ** for the most part 
lately made." * Although, according to a long survey, the 
manor of Eltham consisted largely of closes, there are ref- 
erences to an East field in which seven tenants still held parcels 
containing from | acre to 2 acres each.^ 

^ Land Rev., M. B. 196, 6 Jas. I. The exceptional items tell us, for example, 
that at Faversham were 8 acres of arable ** in conmiuni can^)o vocato le Abbey 
wrongs,'' and at Shoreham li acres of azaUe ** in mmmnni campo vocato Shftri^an^ 
hm"(ff. 116, 1 1 76). 

' Stowe MS. 858, 6 Jas. I. There is, however, mention of one acre and ten 
pdes " in conmiuni can^)o vocato Ashley fidd " (f. 39). 

* An Souk Typus CoUegii, iii, maps 8-14. 

* n>id., maps i (Horsham), 4 (Newington). 

• Exdi. K. R., M. B. 40, f. 7 (1616). 

• Exdi. K. R., M. B. 44» ff* 406-506 (1605). 

Reduced Plan of an Estate of All Souls College, Oxford, 
lying in Newington and Upehureb, Kent 1598. 


Mat Xn 



Full and convincing testimony to the existence of open-field 
arable in Kent appears in certain early seventeenth-century 
surveys relating to St. Margaret at ClifFe, Guston, Deal, and 
Sutton, all situated in the southeastern part of the county. 
A terrier of the glebe of St. Margaret at Cliffe, dated 1645, ^^ 
scribes it as lying in 31 furlongs, in each of which were from two 
to five small parcels, each parcel lying between the lands of other 
proprietors.^ In Limvine furlong, for example, were four separate 
strips of glebe containing respectively i acre and 22 perches, 3 
roods and 10 perches, i rood and 3 perches, i| acres and 15 perches. 
An earlier account of 1616 explains that the same glebe ** lyeth 
in severall Shotts or furlongs of land . . . lying intermixed with 
the lands of the Tenants of the mannor of Reach." * Elsewhere 
we learn that the " manor of Reach doth consist of demesnes and 
services and lyeth in the parish of St. Margaretts at Cliffe neere 
Dover. . . . The demesnes are of thre^ sorts* — Inclosed 
Lands, Outlands or Downe Lands, and Commons. . . . These 
open fields and downe do incompasse the inclosed lands and 
mansion house. . . . " ' Clearly the so-called " outlands " con- 
sisted of intermixed arable strips lying in open field. 

In 1616 the demesne lands of the manor of Guston near Dover 
were of ** two sortes. Inclosed or lying in parcells in open fielde. 
The inclosed lands some ly contiguously one to another and the 
rest lye severed amongst other mens lands." The contiguous en- 
closed demesne comprised 96 acres; the severed but enclosed, 
i6f acres; the unenclosed, 38 acres in 18 parcels. Of the tenants' 
holdings 54 acres were enclosed (whether in contiguous parcels is 
not stated) and 63 acres lay in 72 parcels in open field, the open 
fields bearing such names as the Chequer End, the Butts, Church 
field, and " Le Shott sive Furlong iuxta Banke." * In contrast 
with this estate, another " reputed " manor called Frith in the 
same parish was ** onely in Demesne . . . and the whole de- 
mesne lands lye all together in an oblique lyne and no man hath 
any lands intermixed with the lands of the same manour." * 

^ Rents, and Survs., Portf . 9/55. 

> Ezdi. K. R., M. B. 40, f. 47* 

• Ibid., f. 6 (1616). « Ibid, S.2sq. • Ibid., f. 14. 


Full detail for all tenants' holdings is given in the survey of 
the manor of Dale, or Court Ashe, in the parish of Deal.^ These 
lay almost entirely in open field. The first tenant had 56I acres 
in 23 parcels l}dng in 16 fields,^ the second 18 acres in 20 parcels 
in 13 fields, the fourth 25I acres in 18 parcels in 14 fields, and so 
on. Typical among the field names were Scotten Tyght, Le 
Chequer, Long Tyght, Woo furlong. West furlong super le Downe, 
Keetwheet, Goldfrid, and Upland. 

In the neighboring township of Sutton; the archbishop of 
Canterbury's land consisted both of parcels in enclosed fields 
lying among other men's lands and of parcels in open fields. 
The open fields were named Pising field. Barley Downe, Chequer 
end, the Butts, the North end, and the East hill. In them 
rent-pa5dng tenants also had parcels.' 

These four parishes, St. Margaret, Guston, Deal, and Sutton, 
all lie in the high down-lands of southeastern Kent, downs which 
today are still largely open. The surveys are relatively late, 
dating from the early seventeenth century. An apparently 
reasonable inference, then, would be that we are here dealing with 
stretches of common land somewhat recently improved and distrib- 
uted with an attempt at equity among the several tenants. Yet 
why subdivide so minutely and separate so persistently ? The 
glebe in Limvine furlong at St. Margaret might as well have 
been one four-acre parcel as four smaller ones, and an eighteenth- 
century division of a common would have made it such. The 
actual situation in the survey bespeaks the type of mind which 
subdivided the fields of the midlands, and suggests that the ar- 
rangement in Kent was not altogether recent when the surveys 
were made. 

This inference is not without the support of earlier documents. 
In 4 Richard 11, Thomas Menesse of Dale (in the parish oi Deal) 
granted land as follows: — 

In Dale: '' una roda terre iacet in campo vocato longeth^he 
tres rode iacent in loco vocato Dodeham 

1 Exch. K. R., M. B. 40, ff. &-n, 14 Jas. I. 

* One parcel contained 18 acres, one si; the others were small 

s Exch. K. R., M. B. 40, ff. x-a (1616). 


una roda et dixnidia atte Berwhe 
una roda et dimidia iacent in campo vocato Dode- 
In Sholdon: ** una roda et dimidia iacent in loco vocato Kete- 

tres rode et dimidia iacent particulariter in campo 

vocato Scholdonesfeld 
ima acra et una roda iacent in duabus parcellis 

apud lyden 
et predicta pastura pro quatuor vacds iacet in 
marisco vocato Collosschepemerch. . . /' ^ 

Since the field names at Dale also occur in the survey of 
14 James I as Long Tyght^ Dodham, and Beere Tyght, the 
conditions of the seventeenth century seem to be carried back to 
the fourteenth. 

It is desirable, however, to secure testimony from parts of Kent 
which do not consist mainly of downs. In a hand of Henry VIII 
is written a survey of Sutton at Hone, one of the archbishop's 
manors in the northwestern part of the coimty, some twenty miles 
east of London and five miles from the Thames.' The demesne, 
which comprised 642 acres, was enclosed, but of the 424 acres 
held by the freehold tenants at least 93 lay intermixed in 49 par- 
cels in a half-dozen fields. These fields bore the names Church 
Down, Southfeld, Northfeld, Battesdene, Bradfeld, Jordanes 
Croft. Each of the last three was shared by only two tenants, 
but elsewhere the subdivision was more complex. Southfeld was 
divided among five tenants holding respectively in acres 2} in 3 
parcels, 6f in 2 parcels, 4} in 3 parcels, 14 in 2 parcels, 29I in 12 
parceb (the 12 once having been attached to as many as four 
tenements); Northfeld had four tenants, holding i, I, f , li acres 
(the last in 3 parcels) ; Church Down fell to three tenants, whose 
acres nmnbered 2I, 4} in 2 parcels, and 10) in 9 parcels. 

This distribution of a tenant's parcels throughout fields appears 
quite as noticeably in an early sixteenth-century terrier of the 
lands of the heirs of William Hexstall, Kt., at Hoo St. Mary's, a 

1 Rawl. MS., B 335 (Reg. Hosp. St Barth. Dovorie). 
> Treat, of Receipt, M. B. 172. 


township between the mouth of the Thames and that of the 
Medway. The 36 acres in question comprised 14 acres adjacent 
to the messuage, 3 acres of meadow in a neighboring township, 
and 24 small parcels in 18 places which look much like open 

Such descriptions from two northern townships suggest that 
there was at times in this part of the county considerable sub- 
division of certain holdings into small scattered parcels, and this 
aspect of the situation recurs in terriers and surveys of the four- 
teenth and fifteenth centuries. At Lewisham, near Greenwich, 
there is twice recorded the transfer of parcels that lay in the 
same field.' At St. Mary's Cray and Orpington, also near 
Greenwich, a conveyance of 40 acres, dated 26 Edward m, 
enumerates ii} acres lying in crofts, ii} acres '' in diversis parti- 
culis in campo vocato Burfeld," and the remaining acres in ten 
other places, several of which are called campi} Two instructive 
charters relative to lands in or near Thanet are recorded in a 

^ The distribution was as follows (Rents, and Survs., Portf. 1/4) : — 

Acres Roods (Viisae) Ds/s-works ( * tV Roods) 

InLorfdd i .. q 

* Cuffdd 1$ 

* Trinite i| 

* Wsdishawe a i 5 

« Halles 1 8 

* Spondis 5 

- Perfeld * .. 3 

* Ryf eld i ..iaspaioels 

* Bainefeld 5 

* Newlood I 5 

' leSkcme i 8 

' Psdpcde I I ..inspaiods 

« Menhefeld 8i 

' Oeckyncroft z .. 8i 

' Fedders 3 s| 

" Gitydon 6i 

" Skwafaneston t\ z diiiispaiods 

luxta Wateriokestret 3 

* In the first instance there are five acres, of which 

'' una pars iacet in campo vocato Chatefdd in uno loco 
et alia pars in eodem campo in alio loco 
et tertia pars iacet in canq>o qui vocatur hethefdd.'' 
The second grant relates to 

<< una HfmiHU acra terre in canq>o qui vocatur Estdune . . . ate myddelheg 
cum tota terra quam habet in eodem can^)o Ate gore " (Cott. MS., Otho B 
XIV, ff. 79» 8i)- 

* MSS. of the Dean and Ch^ter of Christcfaurdi, Canterbury, Lib. B, f. 18. 


fourteenth-century cartulary of St. Augustine's abbey. In the 
parish of St. Peter's 19} acres lay in 9 parcels, each located be- 
tween the lands of persons other than the owner (e. g., '' due 
acre iacent inter terram . . . et terram . . . "). At Chislett 4 
acres in 3 parcels were similarly boimded, and other 4 in 4 parcels 
were assigned to different fields.^ Finally, an extended terrier 
of lands just outside of Canterbury, inserted in a fourteenth- 
century hand in another register of St. Augustine's, describes six- 
teen furlongs which constituted the '' Tenura de Esther' infra 
libertatem." ' In each furlong are parcels, usually of | acre to 
4 acres, held by various tenants of the archbishop of Canterbury, 
the prior of Dover, and the abbot of St. Augustine's. There can 
be little doubt here about the existence of intermixed parcels, or, 
considering the grouping by furlongs, about the existence of open 

This fourteenth-century evidence finds its prototype in thir- 
teenth-century feet of fines. One of these, dated 21 Henry HI, 
so describes four acres and four roods in Iwade, near the mouth 
of the Medway, as to give the impression that they were 

^ Cott MS., Claud. D X, ff. 104^, 1346, 1626. The last enumeration is as 
follows: — 

" Due acre et una perticata iacent in campo qui vocatur Herste 
et tres perticate iacent in campo qui didtur Meredale 
et tres perticate iacent in loco qui didtur Calespotle 
et una perticata iacet in can^)o de teghe.'' 

' Cott MS., Faust A I, ff. 1016-106. The following is the allotment of the 
acres of the first six furiongs (A. A. « abbot of St Augustine's, P. D. ■■ prior of 
Dover, A. C. — archbishop of Canterbury) : — 

Inforian- Inforiaa- 


In forlando 

In forlendo 


do by- 



qui didtur 

qui didtur 











• • • • 

• • • • 

• • • • 

• • • • 


John de Gustone. . 






I P.D., 3 A.A. 

• • • • 


3 A.A. 

• • • • 

• • • • 




• • • • 

• • • • 


6pest.,xf A.A. 

• • • • 


iP.D. ai 

1 post. P.D. 

I P.D. 


a P.D. 






3f A.A. 


• • • • 




3 pest. P.D. 

• • • • 

Qnikfman de Ber. . 


• • • • 

• • • • 

a pest. A.C. 

• • • • 


Stmoo Danyel .... 


• • • • 





• • • • 

• • • • 

• • • • 

• • • • 



Stepben SwmtoQ . . 

• • • • 

• • • • 

• • • • 



• • • • 

• • • • 

• • • • 

• • • • 


• • • • 



scattered parcels.^ More instructive, however, is a fine of 20 
Henry III from Barfreston, in eastern Kent, by which one-half 
of a carucate, excepting such land as was held in dower by two 
women, was transferred.* Several characteristics of this fine are 

^ " , . unam acram et HimiHiam in Sweynesam iuxta terram predict! Rogeri 
unam acram in Longeham iuxta terram Ricardi de Cheteneye 
unam acram in Clakslond iuxta terram predict! Wybert! 
f^imi Hiftm acram inter domum diet! Rogeri et dcMiium predict! Robert! 
tres perticatas inter terram predict! Wybert! et Rogeri (Ped. Fin., caae 96, 

no. 335). 
' Transfer of a messuage and a half-carucate, which comprised 

'' unam acram et ties perticatas terre que iacent sub dicto mesuagio versus 

et unam acram et unam perticatam que iacent inter terram ysaac de Sanwyc 

et terram Johannis Pent 
et quatuor acras et unam perticatam terre et dtmidiam versus austrum in 

campo qui vocatur Bestedune 
et unam acram et quatuordedm suloos qui iacent in medio can^)o qui vo- 
catur Bynorthewde 
et quattuor acras terre in medio pasture que vocatur northdune 
et unam acram et unam perticatam et quinque pedes terre in me^ pasture 

que iacet versus Borialem partem de Haggedale 
et quinque perticatas et sex sulcos terre in campo sub Haggedale versus 

et duas acras et unam perticatam et septem pedes terre in pastura versus 

et quattuor acras et quinque sulcos terre versus austrum in campo qui vo- 
catur Bisuthewode 
et tres acras et imam perticatam terre versus austrum in pastura de Litle- 

et tres acras et imam perticatam et dimidiam et duos suloos terre in campo 

qui vocatur Bromudd quarum una medietas iacet sub pastura de Lit- 

ledun et altera medietas in medio campo de Bromfdde 
et unam acram terre que iacet in medio pasture sub bosoo de Berefrestone 

versus ocddentem 
et ties acras et unam perticatam et dimidiam et quattuor suloos terre 

versus aquilonem in campo qui vocatur Langeti^e 
et unam acram et unam perticatam et quattuor suloos terre in campo qui 

iacet versus partem orientalem de LAngetig^ 
et unam acram et dimidiam perticatam terre versus austrum in can^)o qui 

vocatur Steuerlonde 
et unam acram et sex sulcos terre versus austrum in Suthfdd 
et duas perticatas et dimidiam et quattuor sulcos terre versus orientem de 

via que vocatur Drove 
ct unam acram et tres perticatas et tres sulcos terre in medio campo qui 

iacet iuxta curiam versus austrum 


noteworthy. The parcels were not large, ranging from one to 
four acres and averagii^ about two aores. Their areas are ac- 
curately estimated even to " sulci " (furrows). They lay for the 
most part " in campo/' ** in medio campi," '' in medio culture " 
(once), ** in medio pasture." ^ The sulci occur in connection with 
campi, an intimation that the latter were arable; and, when in 
one instance it was necessary to estimate a small piece of pasture, 
this was done in '' pedes." The campi can hardly have been con- 
terminous with the parcels, else why ** in medio campi " ? To 
remove doubt, the fine shows that the 3} acres ** in campo qui 
vocatur Bromueld " were in two parcels, one of them being '* in 
medio campo de Bromfelde." The parcels of arable, th^i, lay 
within larger fields, and, although these are not expressly said 
to have been im^idosed, they probably were so. The terrier 
establishes the existence in northern Kent, in the thirteenth 
century, of holdings constituted in part of small non-adjacent 
parcels of arable. 

The descriptive detail of the fine just quoted emphasizes what 
has already appeared in other terriers and surveys as a Kentish 
characteristic — the location of the parcels of a holding in a 
bewildering nmnber of field divisions bearing local names and giv- 

et quattuor acras et unam perdcatam terre in medio campi qui vocatiir 

et unam acram et dimidiam perticatam et quinque sulcos terre versus aqui- 

lonem in campo qui vocatur Reteghe 
et unam acram et ties perticatas terre in medio pasture de Potynbereg^ 
et duas acras terre que iacent versus Pot3mberegfa cum situ unius mo- 

et unam perticatam et dimidiam et tres sulcos terre in medio culture qui 

vocatur Shortestiche 
et dimidiam acram et six sulcos terre versus ocddentem hortfuikmg 
et dimidiam acram et decem sulcos terre versus orientem in valle sub KnoUe 
et unam perticatam terre in oof ta extra portum versus campum qui iacet 

sub Chimyno qui vocatur Drove 
et tres acras bosd de Berf reston qui iacet versus aquikmem 
et quintam bestiam cum bestiis predictarum (two women holding in dolem] 
in pastura de forestal ante magnam portam curie de Berefreston ** (Fed. 
Fin., case 96, no. 276). 
* The parcds ** in medio pasture '' are puzzling. It may be that old arable 
campi were at the time used as pastures, or it may be that pastures had been 
allotted among the tenants and that the latter could utilize their parcds by means 


ing little due to the husbandry employed. Except that the par- 
cels were usually small and lay to some extent intermixed with 
those of other tenants, Kentish arrangements were in .contrast 
with those of the midlands. There was no grouping of parcels 
into two or three, four or six, fields, with the total areas 
approximately equal. Nor can it be readily discovered from the 
surveys thus far noticed whether the parcels of a holding lay to 
any extent grouped in one part of the unenclosed arable area 
or whether they were scattered conscientiously throughout it. 

Most valuable for determining this point is a survey of Gilling- 
ham, made in 26 Henry VI and preserved at the British Museum 
in an incomplete nineteenth-century copy.^ Gillingham, on the 
lower Medway near Rochester, has today assmned an industrial 
character and has lost its early fields. The old survey, however, 
arranges the tenants' holdings in iuga, and for each of these 
gives boundaries and area. Since this is almost the only survey 
which describes iuga by bounding them, a transcription of the 
first thirteen boundaries is pertinent: — 

" lugum Foghell indpit ad communem viam ducentem inter 
Renham et Gyllyngham versus South 

ad terram de Renham et ad salsum Mariscum de GyYLyng- 
ham versus North 

et ad terram domine Alide Passhde versus West 

et continet illud lugum xxiii acras. 
lugum Cherlman indpit ad terram heredum Adamari Digges 
vocatam Wyndyng versus West 

ad R^iam stratam ducentem inter Gyllingham et Ren- 
ham versus South 

ad mariscum vocatum Thomas Innyng versus North 

et ad communem viam ducentan de Berwescrosse ad Twi- 
delswdle versus East 

et continet illud lugum xxiiii acras iii rodas iii day. 
lugum Fissher inc^Mt ad campum vocatum Brad^dd versus 

of ««tUo or oiber (csniMiruy eaci o s urM . TV phraae ** in HMdb ciapo " may 
pQMiUy be a xmrnal oC in wcdio canpL'* 
^ Add. MS. ^^^oM. 


ad communem stratam vocatam Twidolestrete ducentem 

ad Twidoleswell versus West 
ad mariscum salsum versus North 
et ad metas inter Renham et Gyllingham et terrain heredum 
Thome Gillingham ... in lugo Foghell versus East. . . . 
Duo luga Coole indpiunt ad lugum Fisher ex parte boriali de 
Bradfeld versus North 
ad metas de Renham versus East 
ad Regiam Stra-tam vocatam Twidolestrete versus West 
et ad venellam vocatam Cokkeslane . . . versus South. . . . 
Fraunceis ferthyng incipit in venella vocata Cokkeslane versus 
ad crof tum Ricardi Mauncer et ad metas de Renham ver- 
sus East 
ad Twydolestreete versus West 
et ad lugum Hood versus South. . . . 
lugum Hood incipit ad Fraimceys ferthyng versus North 
ad lugum Edweker versus South 
ad metas de Renham versus East 
et ad Twidolestrete versus West. . . . 
lugum Edweker indpit ad terram de Renham versus East 
ad Twidolstrete versus West 
ad iugum Hood versus North 
et ad iugum vocation Raynold versus South. . . . 
Iugum Raynold indpit ad metas inter Renham et Gillingham 
versus East 
ad Twydolestrete versus West 
ad iugum Edweker versus North 
et ad iugum Gilnoth versus South. . . . 
Iugum Gilnoth indpit ad metas de Renham versus East 

ad regiam viam ducentem inter Roffam et Cantuariam 

versus South 
ad Twydolestrete versus West 
et ad jugum Raynold versus North. . . . 
Iugum Gate indpit ad Twidolestrete versus East 

ad communem Stratam ducentem inter Eastcourt et Ber- 
wescrosse versus North 


ad communem viam ducentem ad ecdesiam de Gillingham 
et ad venellam vocatam Snorehelle lane versiis South 

et ad mesuagium deEast court et Scottyssoole versus West, 
lugum Petri indpit ad communem Stratam vocatam looces- 
strete versus West 

ad Twydolestrete versus East 

ad communem viam ducentem inter Twydolestrete et 
loocesstrete versus North 

et ad iugum Simstan et ad iugum Alreed versus South. . . . 
lugum Simstan indpit ad loocestrete versus West 

ad iugum Alreed versus Est 

ad iugum Petri versus North 

et extendit ad Watescrof t in lugo Alreed versus South. . . . 
Iugum Alreed indpit ad iugum Petri versus North 

ad Twiddolestrete versus Est 

ad Iugum Stimston versus West 

ad . . . [blank] . . . versus South. ..." 

The iuga here described were clearly rectangular areas. From 
"iugum Fissher" to "iugum Gilnoth" they formed a series running 
from north to south, bounded on the east by the parish of Ren- 
ham and on the west by Twidolestrete. The next four consti- 
tuted a similar series lying to the west of Twidolestrete. The 
iugum here and elsewhere in the survey usually contained about 
24 acres, although this number might drop to 5 or rise to 132. 
Sometimes a double iugum occurred, as in the case of " duo iuga 
Coole," and the fourth part of a iugum might appear as a 
" ferthing." As to the tenants, the distribution and areas of 
the parcels of their holdings relative to the first fourteen iuga may 
be tabulated as shown on the following page. 

Few as are these fourteen iuga in proportion to the entire 
number, the preceding tabulation shows in a measure their rela- 
tion to the holdings of the tenants. The lands of any person or 
estate tended to lie in neighboring iuga, whether in few or in 
many. The estate of the hdrs of John Beausitz appears in each 
of the above fourteen, continues through the following dght, dis- 
appears for a long time, but reappears toward the end of the 
survey in some half-dozen field divisions, two of these being iuga. 



The heirs of Thomas Gillingham fare in much the same way. 
Richard Bamme, ^o is not introduced until we reach the tenth 
iugum, continues to have an interest in upwards of twenty-five 
iuga and other areas, his total estate being large. John Digon, 

Name of Itigum Fogliell 

Area of Iaftim> 95 o o 

Helens Thome de Gfllyiig- 107 

bam '34 

Heredes Johaanis BeausiU 035 

John Grenested 
Alkaa HunU . . 

Duo loga Fraunoets 
Cherimaa Fimher Coole Fcrthyng 

Udiaid Maunoer 

Name of Itigum Rajrold 

Area of lugum 37 o o 

Heredes Thome deGiUjmgfaam 

John Grenested 
Alicia Hunte .. 

Richard Maunoer 

Domina AUda Pamhde 
John Lacy 

Richard Bamme 


Johanna Jooce 

Beredcs Johannit Bonres 
John Cofanan, Sen. 



Beredcs Johannit Naste . 


Herades Ademari Digsi .-. 

John Harrqr 

William Zooby 

John Ram 

Heredes Johannis Coleman 

24 3 3 
8 3 8> 
13 o 4 

3 3 z 

34 3 3 

S 3 o 

14 o X ( 
a o o) 

S8 3 o 603 


34 o o 

4837 503 33 IS 

X X 0» 
3 O 

7 3 3* 

X o o 

I a 5 

36 3 9 

x6 o o 

Heredes Johaanis BeausiU 3x07 xo 3 9 


34 3 3* 

X o 9i 

X 3 7i 

3 4* 
3 X« 

XX 3 3 

Petri Simstan Alreed 
34 o xi» 34 o 3i ■ 41 3 3* 

ltt\ ^os 

3 O O 

X 3 li 

3 6 

1 36 

X O 3| 
5 O 3j 

X » 

X o 6 

X 3 X I 
3 3 8«i 

o 7 

3 3 Xi* 

3 »6 

X o o 

X o 

X O X 
X X o 

6 X 8 



3 o 

34 o s 

3 3 O 

19 3 5 

• • • • 

X 3 o 

• • • • 

39 3 3> 

X3 X 3* 

3 3 X 

• • • • 

X o 

• • • • 


X X 3 


3 X O 
X O* 


1 o* 

X o o 

3 O 

^ All areas are in acres, roods, and day's works, a day's work being equivalent 
to one-fourth of a rood. 

* Includes a messuage. 

' The areas asatgned to the last five iuga differ slightly from the sums of the 
areas of the parcds in eadi. ^ A garden. 


at first inconspicuous, comes to have in three neighboring iuga 
24 acres in 24 parcels and a croft of 5 acres. Most of the numer- 
ous tenants, however, were like John Colman or John York: 
they had small parcels in two or three or four neighboring iuga, 
but none elsewhere. It is just possible, of course, that such par- 
cels were contiguous and formed a compact holding artificially 
divided among arbitrarUy drawn iuga. This, however, is imlikely, 
and in any case the larger holdings have to be thought of as com- 
posed of parcels to some extent non-contiguous. The survey 
thus establishes the fact, hitherto obscxire, that the parcels of a 
Kentish holding were not scattered throughout the expanse of 
the village arable, as under the midland system, but were to some 
extent segregated in one locality. They did not, however, en- 
tirely cohere. The field system of Gillingham may, then, be de- 
scribed as one of non-contiguous, yet of not widely scattered, 

Over it all rested the network of the iuga, for the rectangular 
appearance of which this survey is our best source. Whether 
blocks of such a shape, regularly disposed and of imiform size, 
served or ever had served an agricultural end, is not explained in 
this abbreviated document. Other Kentish surveys, however, 
amplify our knowledge, and an extract from one of the best of 
them is printed in Appendix V. The description of units, tenants, 
parcels, and rents shows the same completeness which must have 
characterized the Gillingham original. Beginning and end are 
wanting, but the hand is of the early fifteenth century. The 
townships referred to are Newchurch, Bilsington, and Romney 
Marsh. Iuga are not mentioned, the units here being " dolae " 
and " tenementa." The accounts of three dolae (" dola Gode- 
wini,'' " dola Stomi," " dola de Kyngessnothe ") and of three 
half-dolae (" dimidia dola Mawgeri," " alia dimidia dola Maw- 
geri," " dimidia dola de Westbrege '') have been transcribed. 

Several characteristics already discerned at Gillingham re- 
appear. The dolae are described as abutting upon or lying on 
both sides of certain highways, a circumstance which implies that 
they were compact areas; indeed, a statement is sometimes added 
to the effect that their acres lay " coniunctim." Their size was 


unifonn, varying only between 40 and 46 acres. Several tenants 
shared in each, except in '' dola de Kyngessnothe/' the whole of 
which was held by the heirs of Jacob de Kyngessnothe. A ten- 
ant sometimes had parcels in successive dolae or half-dolae. 
Adam Osbam had five parcels in one dola, four in another; the 
heirs of Richard Pundherst had three acres in one, three and 
one-half in another, and nine in a third — four parcels in all. 
So far as the incomplete survey permits us to judge, the parcels 
of a tenant did not lie in many widely separated dolae, but in a 
few adjacent ones. 

Additional information may be got from the extracts printed 
in Appendix V. The parcels within each dola are named 
and their areas given. Names usually differed, except that 
a few parcels are said to have lain "in Holland"; the areas, 
too, of the parcels were not such as to suggest open-field strips. 
Both circumstances point to the absence of unenclosed arable, 
an inference which is the more probable since the region in ques- 
tion is in or near Ronmey Marsh. The system of iuga or dolae 
was therefore consistent with one of plats, whether arable, marsh, 
or pasture, and hence with one of enclosiu'es. Yet if the parcels 
were plats or enclosures, they were none the less, in the New- 
church survey, often non-adjacent. So, indeed, the Newington 
plan, which has already been reproduced, shows the plats there 
to have been. Conditions of the late sixteenth century thus find 
a parallel some two hundred years earlier. 

Other peculiarities of the Kentish system we can best discover 
by noting in connection with the Newchurch extracts the impli- 
cations of another survey, perhaps the most satisfactory that we 
have.^ It was made in the early fifteenth century for Thomas 
Ludlow, abbot of Battle, and refers to the large manor of Wye, 
situated in the center of the county. Except for its omission of 
the boundaries and locations of the iuga, it is superior to the 
Gillingham transcript, and it is more nearly complete and more 
complex than the Newchurch record. 

The description, as usual, proceeds by iuga. At Wye these 
imits varied considerably in area, comprising from 37 to 187 

1 Exch. Aug. Of., M. B. 56, £f. ioS-x88. 


acres, the fluctuations being due to the inclusion of greater or 
smaller quantities of pasture or down-land. The average size 
of a iugum was from 60 to 70 acres, in contrast with the 24-acre 
iugum of GiUingham and the 40-acre dola of Newchurch. A 
description of two of the smaller iuga will be of assistance in 
drawing general conclusions : — 

'' Dimidiimi Iugum de foghelchilde 

Heredes Johanis Dod tenent in campo vocato Wolvenfeld 

ii acras i rodam dimidiam 
Agnes Broman tenet in eodem i acram iii rodas et in 

Strongelonde i acram dimidiam 
Thomas Elyndenne tenet de iure uxoris sue in Wolvenfelde 

ii acras dimidiam 
Heredes Johanis Selke de Broke tenent in Strongelonde 

iii acras iii rodas. In crofto vocato Jannescroft de Wy 

i acram terre 
Heredes Stephani Tur tenent in Strongelond unam acram 

dimidiam. In Doucerede iii acras et in longecrofte i 

acram dimidiam 
Stephanus Dod tenet in Wolvenfeld dimidiam acram dimi- 
diam rodam 
Heredes Johanis Selke iunioris tenent in Strongelond ii 

acras i rodam. In longorcrofte i acram et in mestiagio 

eorum apud Silkenstrete in capite orientali dicti mesuagii 

Johanes Petycourt tenet apud Gerardeste^bile i acram 

Andrus Martyn tenet in mesuagio suo et in Strongelond 

i acram iii rodas 
Heredes Simonis Gaman tanner tenent in Clerkescroft 

i acram iii rodas 
Thomas Alayn tenet in Selkenbroke iiii acras HifniHi^m 
Thomas Kempe tenet in Mdcompesmede iii rodas prati 

que fuerunt Agnetis Danyd 
Summa xxziii acre i roda HimiHift 
[Rent and services one-half as great as for the fdlowing 




" lugum de Clyt et Forwerde 

Hamo Gennan tenet in East walewaye ii acras que fuerunt 
Thome Scot 
Item i acram ibidem que fuit Johanis Laghame 
Item in eodem iii acras que fuerunt Thome de Chityn- 

den de WiUiehno Barrok 
Item in eodem i acram dimidiam que fuerunt Simonis 

de Tongge 
Item in eodem iii rodas terre que fuerunt predicti Si- 
Item in eodem ii acras que fuerunt Johanis Hortone 

vocati Cukkow 
Item in eodem i acram terre . . . que fuit Johanis 

Item in eodem i acram terre . . . que fuit Thome 

German bocher 
Item in eodem v acras i rodam terre iacentes in longi- 
tudine ad predictam acram terre predicti Johanis 
Item in eodem i acram dinlidiam que fuerunt Steph- 

Summa xix acre 
Heredes WiUiehni Mellere tenent in East waleweye sub le 

lynche i acram dimidiam 
Heredes Stephani Tur tenent in Gretefeld i acram dimi- 
Johanes Peticourt tenet in Eastbrettegh ii acras. Et in 

foldenge i acram i rodam 
Heredes Roberti Man tenent in Eastbrettegh iiii acras 
Thomas Baldewyne tenet in Westgretefdd ii acras dimi- 
Heredes Johanis Selke tenent in Eastbretteghe i acram 
dimidiam. In Gretefelde ii acras. In WestgrettfeMe 
dimidiam acram terre 
Gilbertus Baldewyne tenet in Eastbrettegh i acram dimi- 
diam terre 
Summa xzxvii acre i roda 


Unde de redditu per annum cum viii d. ob. pro tenemento Gil- 
bert! Forderede be s. vi d. [at six terms] ... ad Nativitatem 
domini i gallum ii gallinas £t [ad] Pascham xx ova. Et tenentes 
predict! debent pro predict© iugo onmes consuetudines et servida 
sicut Johannes de Garde debet de proprio iugo suo de Cokeles- 
coumbe predicto." ^ 

The concluding phrases, such as are confessedly omitted in 
the Gillingham copy but occur in connection with each dola at 
Newchurch, disclose the financial aspect of the iugum. Vary 
as they might in area, the Wye iuga were alike in the obligations 
which rested upon them. Rents of assize and services were the 
same for all. The former were set at 8 s, g\ d. the iugum, with 
one-half as much for the half -iugum and one-fourth as much for 
the virgata. The services were not burdensome, comprising little 
more than the ploughing, sowing, mowing, and reaping of two or 
three acres yearly by each iugum.* At Newchurch the value 
of the rent of assize and of the services due from each dola was 
eighteen shillings. These heavier obligations imposed upon units 
which were usually smaller than those at Wye may have been due 
to a better quality of soil. At any rate, it can no longer be 
doubted that at the beginning of the fifteenth century the iuga and 
dolae were primarily financial, not agricultural, units. Whereas 
several tenants shared in each of them and few tenants were 
limited to any one of them, they did have finanda.1 unity and 
stability. Their midland correspondents were not the furlongs, 
as the boundaries at Gillingham might suggest, but rather the 
virgates or yard-lands upon which, as units, rents and services 
were always imposed in the midlands. Differ as they might in 
the distribution of their constituent parcels, Kentish iuga and 
midland virgates were alike to the rent-collector. 

1 Exch. Aug. Of., M. B. 56, £f. 116, 114&. 

> " Et debet arare ad frumentum i acram et dimidiam acram tore domini cum 
lacto proprio, petere semen ad granariam in manerio domini de Wy, seminare et 
herdare predictam acram et dimidiam Et debet arare, seminare semine domini 
ut siq>ra, et herdare i acram et dimidiam acram terre domini ad sementem ordei et 
petere semen ut supra. Et debet falcare, ^Mirgere, vertere, cumulare, cariare in 
manerium domini et ad tassiun hircare unam acram prati de prato domini. Et 
debet metere, ligare, et coppare in autumpno unam acram et HimiHiaiyi acram de 


Unfortunately, as was noticed above, the iuga of Wye are not 
bounded in the survey. To discover whether they were compact 
areas, as were those at Gillingham and Newchurch, we have to 
attend to the field-names used, and even then we can draw conclu- 
sions only when the names are not too diverse. In the '' iugum 
de Clyt et Forwerde " more than one-half of the parcels and of 
the area lay in East Walewaye; the remainder was pretty well 
accounted for by East Brettegh, Gretefeld, and West Gretefeld. 
Although no statement records that these four areas were contig- 
uotis, it is probable that they formed a block not unlike a iugum 
at Gillingham. Sometimes the place-names within a iugum at 
Wye were nmnerous, certain of them referring to parcels or crofts 
which fell to individual tenants.^ But this circumstance need 
not conflict with the conception of the iugum as a compact 
area; it merely implies that such an area was divided into many 

. As at Gillingham and Newchurch, the tenants of each iugmn 
at Wye were likely to be several in number; the first iugum 
only was in the hands of a single proprietor. Furthermore, as 
in the other surveys, a tenant usually had parcels in two or three 
consecutive iuga; but in its greater concentration of the parcels 
of a holding Wye resembled Newchurch rather than Gillingham. 
Typical was the holding of John Baldewyne, whose parcels were 
situated in three iuga as follows : — 
In the half-iugum Mastall, 

in Weyberghe 2 acres, i| roods 

in Tommestowne 3 roods, 8 day's- works 

in le Berghe 2 acres, i| roods; 
In the one and one-half iuga Chilchebpme, 

in Chilcheboumesfelde J acre, J day's-work 

in piriteghe 2I acres 

in Watertoune et in parvo gardino i| rood; 

frumento domini. Et debit xvii averagia et tertiam partem unius averagii per 
annum. Et debet inde de relevio cum accident jd d. Et debet sectam per 
Annum " (ibid., f. logb), 

^ Ten place-names, as we have seen, were Connected with the half-iugum of 
Fogheldulde. Four tenants shared in Wolvenfdd and four in Strangdonde, but 
the ei^t remaining areas, four of which were crofts, fell to individual tenants. 


In the half-iugum Ammyng [specification is only by quality of 

olim Thome Chiterenden, terra optimi predi, i acre, 3 

roods; terra medii predi, i rood 
que fuerunt Simmonis de Tonge, terra optimi predi, 3) 

acres; terra medii predi, i acre; pastura, 25I acres 
quondam Gilbert! Mogge, terra optimi predi, 3 roods; 

terra medii precii, | acre; pastura, i| acres 
que fuenmt Stephani Mogge, terra optimi predi, ) acre; 

terra medii predi, } acre; pastura, 2| acres 
que fuenmt heredimi Johanis Mogge et Hamonis Mogge, 

terra optimi precii, i| acres; terra medii predi, i acre; 

pastura, 4I acres. 

The " former tenants " here mentioned should be compared 
with those who appear in the first part of the description of 
" iugum de Clyt et Forwerde." ^ One-half of this iugum had 
come into the hands of Hamo German, his ten parcels having 
formerly been held by nine tenants, only one of whom bore the 
name of German. Since the names of the former tenants are 
clearly remembered, the accumulation seems to have come about 
somewhat recently. From phenomena like this we discover that 
the situation pictured in the survey was not one of long standings 
and perceive that a iugum might come to be transformed from 
an area shared by many tenants into one held by two or three. 
Enclosure would readily attend upon consolidation, and by the 
sixteenth or seventeenth century a county largely enclosed would 
be a natural result. 

If tendencies toward consolidation are discernible in the 
" iugum de Clyt et Forwerde," none the less were there tenden- 
cies in the opposite direction. Four of the eight tenants were not 
individuals but groups, and the group in each case consisted of 
the heirs of a former tenant Even if this man's parcel had been 
not larger than an acre and a half, it passed to his heirs jointly. 
In the half-iugum Foghdchilde five of the twelve tenants were 
groi4)6 of heirs. Since the situation was not different with the 
other iuga at Wye, the actual tenants there must have been 

* Cf . above, p. 989. 


far more numerous than are the entries of the survey. At 
GOHngham and Newchurch, too, the heirs of a defunct tenant 
frequently appear as his successor. In the half-dola of West- 
brege the only tenants were three such groups. The custom of 
transmitting a holding to all the heirs of a tenant rather than to 
one of them is of course the distinguishing feature of the Kentish 
tenure known as gavelkind. This usage was in marked contrast 
with that of the midlands, where the virgate or fractional virgate 
of a customary tenant passed intact to a single heir or to a new 
tenant. The antiquity of this Kentish custom, so imusual and so 
frequently perceptible in the fifteenth century surveys, now 
deserves consideration. 

In tracing the earlier history of the iugum much depends upon 
nomenclature. One of our most valuable doctmients at this 
point, since it admits of comparison with the fifteenth-century 
survey, is a Wye rental of 5 Edward II, which records the tenants 
of all iuga and the rents accruing from them.^ On examination we 
discover that the names of the iuga are practically the same as in 
the survey of 150 years later, and that the surnames of tenants 
are frequently unchanged. In the half-iugum Coklesciunbe the 
heirs of John Hughelyn are tenants in the earlier rental, Simon 
Hoghelyn and Johanna Hoghelyn in the later survey. While 
surnames often thus persist in the same iugiun, there is also a 
tendency for them to shift from one iugiun to another. In the 
rental, " Gilbertus Dod et Simon Dod tenent iugiun de East- 
chilton pro ^BWllehno de Chiltone "; in the survey, tenants by the 
name of Dod are found in half-iugum Coklescumbe, in iugum 
Waleweye, and in half-iugum Foghelchilde. 

A peculiar difference between rental and survey lies in the fact 
that in the former the tenants, whether few or several, hold 
" for " (pro) one or more persons. The two Dods held " for " 
WiUiam de Chiltone. The one-and-one-half iugum Chelchebome 
is held " pro " Hugo Mogge and " Walter de Chelchebome et 
sodi " by Richard de Coiunbe, Richard de Brc^e, Stephen Re- 
naud, the heirs of ^R^am de Chilchebome, Gilbert de Chilche- 
bome, Stephen Baldewyne, William Mogge, Richard Mogge, 

* Exch. Aug. Of., M. B. 57, flf. 95-105. 


Adam Mogge, and Robert '^ filius Alain Mogge." This is an elab- 
orate process of sub-letting, both tenants and sub-tenants being 
many. In the fifteenth-century survey only one group of ten- 
ants, presumably the old sub-tenant group, is referred to. 

The significant featiure of the rental, however, is the similarity 
between the names of the iuga and the names of the tenants (not 
sub-tenants). The tenant of the iugum East Chilton is William 
de Chiltone. Similarly, " Hamo pistor tenet iugum de Wyther- 
stone pro Gilberto de Wytherstone," and " Thomas de Brones- 
ford tenet iugum quod vocatiu: Aula de Bronesford." The 
one-and-one-half iugum Cukelescumbe is held by several sub- 
tenants for a group composed of Walter de Cukelescumbe, the 
heirs of Hugo de Cukelescumbe, and the heirs of '^Radulfus 
molendinarius et socii." Thus, so far as names are concerned, 
the tenants of the iuga stand at times in intimate relations with 
the iuga themselves. With the sub-tenants' names, naturally, 
such is not the case. In the later Wye survey, too, where we are 
dealing only with actual holders, who correspond to the former 
sub-tenants, little similarity between surnames and the names of 
iuga is to be expected; and, indeed, the matter of nomenclature 
is there of little importance. 

The identity between surnames of immediate tenants and 
names of iuga in the rental of Edward 11 has noteworthy impli- 
cations. It might seem that the tenant at times got his name 
from the iugum rather than the iugum from the tenant. Hugo 
de Cukelescumbe, Walter de Chilchebome, Gilbert de Wither- 
stone, William de Chiltone, are tenants of the iuga whose names 
they bear. Yet even in these instances it is probable that the 
personal name was originally derived from some place-name 
older than that of a iugum at Wye. On the other hand, there 
can be no doubt that several of the names of the Wye iuga were 
derived from personal names, and in one instance we can see 
this happening. Two sub-tenants confer their names upon the 
iuga which they hold. In the rental Gilbert Dod and Simon 
Dod held the iugum of East Chilton for William de Chiltone; in 
the survey this iugum a{^>ears as one of the '' duo iuga de Doddes 
que vocantur Gerold et East Chilton." Other iuga in both rental 


and survey are obviously designated by personal names. Such 
are " iugum Willelmi de lewte et Stephani de Chiltone," " dimi- 
dium iugum Orgari pistoris," " iugum [Stephani] Bard et Neel," 
" dimidium iugum de Bisshop/' '' dimidium iugum de Knottes et 
Someres.'* In the Newchurch survey the dolae bore the names of 
Godewin, Mawger, and Stom. Since iuga and dolae therefore 
sometimes came to bear personal names, we may at once inquire 
what this implies. 

If a person gives his name to a certain area of land or even 
derives his name from it, that land is presumably his own in 
some more or less intimate sense. The dola named from Godwin 
and the iugum named from Stephen Bard must at one time have 
been in their occupation or ownership. A clue to the interpreta- 
tion of the Wye evidence from this point of view is to be had in a 
still earlier Wye rental, one from the days of Edward I.^ Although 
it is merely an emmieration of payments and of the persons 
responsible for them, the names of the latter, we discover, are 
names later borne by the iuga.* Most significant is the frequency 
with which the persons answerable for rents appear as groups of 
heirs. Where doomients of the fourteenth and fifteenth centu- 
ries speak of " iugum de Clyt et Forwerde," the rental states 
that the " heredes Cliteres " and the ** heredes Forwerd " pay 7|d. 
Where in the later records we have been wont to hear of the half- 
iugum Foghelchilde, we learn from the early rental that the 
" heredes Foghel " pay 3} d. In short, the rental transports us to 
a time when most of the iuga were, to be sure, not in the hands 
of their eponymous tenants, but in the hands of the heirs of such 
tenants. It is a period antecedent to the two stages pictured by 
the later rental and the stiU later survey. Back of it is yet an 
earlier period, the existence of which seems guaranteed by the use 
of the term " heirs "; for, if the heirs of a tenant hold a parcel of 
land, the tenant in question must once have held it either for 
himself or as representative of his family group. 

^ S. R. Scargfll-Biid, Custumals of BatUe Abbey (Camden Soc., 1887), pp. loi- 


* In a half-dozen instances, iuga, not persons, are named as responsible for the 


Four stages in the history of the iuga at Wye thus emerge. 
At a date still undetermined each iugum or half-iugum was 
attributable to a single tenant, who either gave it his name or, if 
it already bore a topographical designation, possibly took his 
name from it. By the end of the thirteenth century it had passed 
to his heirs, who held it as a group of co-tenants. In the first half 
of the next century these heirs were distinguished from another 
group of tenants who held for {pro) them, but whose members 
had to only a slight extent the same surnames as the group of 
heirs. By the fifteenth century one group of tenants alone re- 
mained, and their names have scarcely any connection with the 
names once traditional in the iugiun. To how small a degree 
the interests of these last tenants were bound up with the iugum 
is shown by their acquisiticm of parcels in other iuga as well. The 
history of the iugum was therefore one of continuous subdivision 
and reapportionment, largely due to the practice of transmitting 
landed property to groups of heirs, who in turn at times sub- 
let it. 

The effect of such a history upon the appearance of the iugum 
can be conjectured. Division among co-heirs probably involved 
giving to each his share of the several qualities of land within 
the iugum. In the fifteenth century the half-iugum Ammyng 
gave no names to its parcels, but grouped them as ^' terra optimii 
predi, terra medii predi, et pastura." ^ Since allotments of 
different quality must frequently have been non-contiguous^ the 
tenants of a subdivided iugimi would find their holdings consist'- 
ing of scattered parcels. But neither in this condition nor as a 
compact block before subdivision can the iugum have been fitted 
into the framework of the midland system. Had the arable of 
the township been divided into two or three large fields, the 
iugum as a compact area would in a particular year have been 
either entirely fallow or entirely sown. That fifteenth- or even 
thirteenth-century Kentish holdings consisted of scattered parcels 
does not, therefore, imply midland husbandry. One must re- 
member, too, that the parcels of the iugimi might be meadow or 
pasture as well as arable, they might be open or enclosed. Only 

^ Cf. p. 292, above. 


one approach to the aspect of the midland system do Kentish 
postulates allow. If in the case of the arable co-heirs or co- 
tenants at times devised some system of codperative ploughing, 
there may have aris^i within a iugum something resembling a 
midland furlong. But such a furlong did not combine with other 
similar ones to form two or three large fields. 

With the key to Kentish field arrangements above given, the 
interpretation of early charters becomes simple. The scattering 
of parcels is explicable; it was, indeed, normal. The multiplicity 
of names arises from a reference not only to the field divisions of 
one iugum, but in all probability to those of two or three iuga. 
The varying areas of the parcels are appropriate to Kent as they 
would not be to the midlands, and the small size of most of them 
was a natural outcome of more or less frequent subdivision. 
Parcels might or might not assume the appearance of arable 
strips, according to the tenants' attitude toward cooperative 
ploughing. Apparently they did practice this on the down-lands 
of the southeast. In general, then, a fourteenth- or fifteenth- 
centiuy map would show the parcels of a holding as a network of 
non-contiguous plats or strips often considerably segregated in 
one part of the township's area. In its primary methods and 
results the Kentish S3rstem was not unlike the Scottish or the 
Irish; transmission to co-hdrs or co-tenants wrought similar 
effects in each case. The difference lay in the original units. In 
the Celtic countries it was the entire, township which was first 
subjected to subdivision; in Kent, it was the smaller iugum or 

No conjecture has yet been hazarded as to when the iugum or 
dola was in the hands of the tenant with whose name it came to 
be connected. Since iuga are Domesday imits, they must have 
antedated the Conquest. Yet most of the names which they bear 
are later. At Gillingham the personal names Fissher, Hood, 
Pilgrym, have no flavor of antiquity. At Wye, in the earliest 
rental, many of the list seem to be from Norman England. Such 
are Gilbertus de Wythereston, Williehnus de Pirye, Roger et 
Juliana de Rengesdon, Radulphus molendinarius, Richardus 
Besant, and many others. A few names, however, suggest 


Saxon or Danish connections, and these are significant. There 
was a "iugum Wlstani" and a "iugum Orgari"; at Newchnrch 
the dolae bore the names of Godewin, Mawger, and Stom. 
Apparently iuga and dolae had once been in the hands of Saxons 
or Danes but had been largely appropriated by victorious Nor- 
mans, who thereupon affixed to them Norman names and trans- 
mitted them by tenure of gavelkind. What we should like to 
discover is whether, before the Conquest, the units had been thus 
transmitted and whether therefore there had been several tenants 
of a iugum or dola. To judge from nomenclature alone, one might 
assimie that there had not, that Wlstan, Orgar, Stom each held 
an undivided tenement. But we know too little about the 
transmission of socage holdings in pre-Norman days to maintain 
that one son inherited to the exclusion of his brothers.^ The 
individual Saxon name attached to each iugum or dola may have 
been that of the head of a family group and the group may have 
held the tenement collectively without formally dividing it — a 
parcel of folk-land. We must thus be content with consigning 
the Kentish iugum, as a compact rectangular area of from 25 to 
60 acres, into the hands of a single Saxon or of a Saxon family, by 
whom it was cultivated without thought of any two- or three- 
field system. 

In order that the system may the better be traced outside the 
borders of the county, a word should be added regarding other 
Kentish units of land-holding. In the first place, the iugum 
had its subdivisions, the fourth part having already made its 
appearance at Gillingham under the name of '^ ferthing." At 
Wye the same fraction was called a virgate, and a '^ virgatam 
Throfte, vocatam Throfteyerde, continentem l acras" ¥ras 
bounded as one block. Farther on we learn that it paid only 
one-fourth of the usual relief, '^ sicut de quarta parte unius iugi." ' 
At Sceldwike there is mention of a '' dimidia virgata terre " from 
which 5f acres are granted away, and at Selling there was an 
agreement " de tribus iugis terre et una virgata." ' At Eltbam 

* Cf, below, p, 304, n. i. • 

* Exch, Aug. Of., M. B. 56, f, 136. 

* AftkHpk^tm C^iUkmo^ I t6t (Pcd. Fm., to Rkfa. I), iv. 508 (8 John). 


Mirgates entirely superseded iuga as rent-paying units, the villein 
tenements amounting to 28f virgates of 7} acres each.^ 

This connotation of the term virgata, a word often found in 
descriptions of Kentish land, is, however, unusual. Elsewhere in 
Kentish dociunents virgata meant a rood, or the fourth part of 
an acre. Three virgatae, for instance, equalled '' ima dimidia 
acra . . . et una virgata," * and seven virgatae equalled " ima 
acra et tres virgatae." • Such is nearly always the significance 
of the term in charters and surveys.* 

In some places the larger '' sulimg " persisted as the rent- 
paying imit, without any reference to iuga. So late as 30 Henry 
VI the arrangement in Thanet was that 50 tenants held Mer- 
gate " swyllimg " of 210 acres, while 13, 10, 20, and 15 tenants 
held respectively the other sulimgs of Savlyng, Westgate, Syan- 
kesdon, and Hertesdowne.^ All sulimgs contained 210 acres 
except the last, which comprised only 146. At Estrey details 
are given about the four " sullinga " and the services due from 
each in a roll written in a hand of the thirteenth century and said 
to be " de novo compositus sed ab antiquo rotulo abstractus." • 
Of these sulimgs, each containing about 200 acres, the first is 
described as follows: '' In sullimga de Ruberghe sunt ccv acre 
imde Willielmus de Ruberghe tenet xlv acras et Willielmus 
luvenis et sodi sui Ix acras et Ricardus cyece et sodi sui Ix acras 
et Stephanus filius Normanni et sodi sui xl acras." From this 
it seems likely that the sulimg consisted of contiguous blocks of 
land, and it is clear that one man was often put at the head 
of his " sodi " as responsible for some 60 acres. Other Christ- 
church manors at the end of the thirteenth century were assess^ 
by sulimgs. In the manor of Ickham we find four of them.^ 
Again, "apud Monkton sunt xvii swolimg de Gavilykind," each 

^ Archaeohgia Cantiana^ iv. 311 (Inq. p. Mort., 47 Hen. III). 
« Rawl. MS., B 335, f. 54, 9 Edw. II. 
» Cott MS., Claud. D X, f . 123. 

^ E. g., Ped. Fin., case 95, no. 133, 11 Hen. HI: '' De dimidia acra terre et una 
virgata et dimidia." 

* MSS. of the Dean and Chapter of Christchurch, Canterbury, Reg. St Augus- 
tine's E xiz. f. 1826. 

• Ibid., Roll E, 184a. 
» Ibid., Lib. J, f . 10*. 


rendering yearly 20 s. " de mala " and ij d. the acre " de gablo." ^ 
At Adisham there was a tendency to use the term generally — to 
speak, for example, of 36 acres " de Swylenglonde " in Pedding 
(a field name) held by six tenants.' Certain manors of St. 
Augustine's were in the thirteenth century divided into sulimgs. 
At Chislet, '^ Hec simt consuetudines . . . scil. de quinque su* 
linges et dimidia "; and a Littleboum rental begins, '' Apud 
Sircham habetur dimidia sullimg de c acris et debet de qualibet 
acra i d. de gablo." • 

Alongside these definite units, the sulung, the dola, the iugum, 
and the quarter-iugum called virgata or ferthing, there is one 
less definite, the " tenementiun." It appears in the Wye survey. 
Following the list of iuga are many tenementa, each containing 
from 60 to 70 acres, each paying a considerable rent (e. g., 155. 
9 d. from 7of acres) and doing ploughing, resting, and mowing 
services much as did the iuga. Iuga and virgatae sometimes 
appear among them, and like the iuga they comprised parcels 
held by different men. It seems natural to infer that this second 
part of the rental describes lands improved or assessed more re- 
cently than were the old iuga, and at a time when there was a 
tendency to abandon the ancient term for a new one. This 
conjecture is strengthened by a fourteenth-century custumal of 
Eastry,^ which is detailed enough in its field names to admit of 
comparison with the earlier one of the thirteenth century. ^ In 
the later roll the term sulung, the basis of assessment in the first, 
does not ai^)ear, and the same lands are grouped under new and 
smaller units called tenementa, for each of which there are many 
tenants. * In Eastry the sulung seems to have broken directly 
into tenementa without reference to iuga; in Wye the tenements 
took their places beside the iuga. 

One other unit, more distinctively Kentish, should be noticed. 
This is the "day's work," often abbreviated to "day" or "dai." 
In the survey of Wye nearly all parcels are given in acres, roods, 

1 MSS. of the Dean and Chapter of Christchuich, Canteibary, Reg. St Augus- 
tine's £ ziz. f. i^. 

« Ibid,, f. II*. » Cott MS,. Faust. A I, fF. 56, laa 

« MSS. of the Dean and Chapter of Christchurch, CantertMuy, RoU E, 188. 

• Cf . ahove, p. 199, 


and days. The days seldom exceed ten, and a comparison of 
items leads to the conclusion that ten dayVworks constituted one 
rood. The smallest Kentish imit of superficial land measure was 
thus not the pole or perch, but the equivalent of four poles. 

Of the five units above described three were certainly not 
widespread in England, at least under these names. The sulung, 
the iugum, and the day's-work are not often mentioned outside of 
Kent, and hence may without great inaccuracy be called Kentish. 
The appearance of any of these names elsewhere will suggest the 
Kentish system.^ The terms tenement and virgate are of coiirse 
common, but the connotation which they had in Kent is, for the 
virgate at least, distinctive. 

In default of accessible documents, the methods of tillage em- 
ployed by manorial tenants in the open fields of mediaeval 
Kent are not easy to ascertain. There is, however, no reason 
to think that the demesne may not at times have lain inter- 
mixed with the tenants' land,' as it often did in the midlands. 
If such were the case, the record which we have concerning the 
tillage of demesne lands may to some extent be representative of 
methods of tillage in general. In any event, it will disclose the 
fact that in fourteenth-century Kent certain arable lands were 
tilled more continuously and with better results than were similar 
lands in most other parts of England. 

Evidence regarding the tillage of the demesne can be drawn, as 
heretofore, from the extents contained in the inquisitions post 
mortem, especially in those of the late thirteenth and early four- 
teenth centuries.' These documents make it clear that in the 
midlands the average annual value of an acre of arable which was 
left fallow every second or third year was from 4 J. to 6 J., with an 
occasional drop to 3 d. and a rise to 8 J. In Kent the percentage 
of the arable left fallow and the annual value of an acre did not 
at times greatly differ from this. At Hothfield, in 1 2 Edward m, 
80 acres from a total of 200 were untilled, and 6 J. is stated to 
have been the average annual value of an acre.^ Elsewhere, while 

* This is less true of day's woriL (c£. p. 228, n. 3). 

* Cf. above, p. 375. * Cf. above, p. 46. 

* C Inq. p. Mort, Edw. m, F. 56 (i), 17 July, 13 Edw. Ill, Hothfdd: " Sunt 
ibidem cc acre terre arabilis que valent per annum c s. praetium acre vi d. De 


£he area sown was about two-thirds of the total, the part left 
fallow had a distinct value as pasture, presumably because it was 
enclosed. At Throwley, for example, the no acres that were 
sown from a total of i6o were each valued at 6 rf., but the re- 
mainder bore pasturage worth 2d, the acre.^ Similarly, at 
Brabourn the demesne arable when sown was worth 6 J., but when 
unsown the pasturage of each acre was worth 3 d. from Easter 
to All Saints.* 

Most interesting and most significant, however, are the some- 
what numerous Kentish manors on which in the middle of the 
fourteenth century all the acres of the demesne were sown 
yearly, — " possimt seminari quolibet anno." They were so 
sown on nearly all the manors of Giles de Badlesmere in 12 Ed- 
ward III. Under these conditions the value of an acre often 
became 12 d? Occasionally it did not rise above 6 J. or 8 J., but 
this was in the down-coimtry of the east.^ Such annual tillage of 
the entire demesne, with the resultant high valuation per acre, is 
a circumstance very imusual for the fourteenth centxiry. It was 
seldom to be met with outside of Kent, but was there a normal 
concomitant of the flexible field system which the surveys of the 
coimty have shown us. In a region in which it was generally 
known that much land could be sown yearly, and in which there 

quibus seminabantur hoc anno cxx acre ante mortem died Egidii et residuum 
iacet ad warectam." 

* C. Inq. p. Mort, F. 65 (11), 21 May, 15 Edw. Ill, Throwley: " Sunt ibidem 
dz acre terre arabilis que valent per annum quando seminantur iiii li. pretium acre 
vi d. et quando non seminantur pastura cuiuslibet acre valet ii d. De quibus 
seminabantur ante mortem predicti Willidmi de semine yemali et quadragesimali 
ex acre." 

' Ibid., F. 45 (24), II Edw. Ill, Brabourn: " Sunt ibidem cccxlii acre terre 
arabilis in dominico que valent . . . quum seminantur pretium acre vi d. Et 
quum non seminantur pastura cuiuslibet acre valet a festo Pasche usque festum 
Onmium Sanctorum iii d. Et a predicto festo Omnium Sanctorum usque festum 
Pasche pastura earundem nihil valet quia nihil vend! potest" 

• Ibid., F. 56 (i), 3 July, 12 Edw. HI, Badlesmere: " Sunt ibidem ccc acre terre 
arrabilis que valent per annum xv li. pretium acre xii d. et possunt quolibet anno 
seminari et seminabantur hoc anno ante mortem predicti Egidii." So too, with 
difference of areas, was it at Chatham, Kingston, Tong, Sibton, Wilderton. At 
Erith there were 243 acres of '* terra arabiUs in marisco " worth 3 5, the acre, and 
68 other acres of arable worth 20 d, the acre. 

« E. g., at ChOham 8 </., at Ringwold 6 </., at WhitsUble 6 d. (ibid.). 


was no system of two or three open fields, agriculture appears to 
have advanced more rapidly than elsewhere in England. 

We are at length in a position to sxmmiarize the characteristics 
of the Kentish field sjrstem. In part they are negative. The 
arable fields of a township were not divided into two or three 
large areas in each of which all virgate or bovate holders had 
strips and one of which was usually left fallow. On the contrary, 
all the improved land of the township was marked off into more 
or less rectangular areas called iuga, dolae, or tenementa, all 
serving as imits for the assessment of rents and services. If an 
actual fifteenth-century holding be considered, it appears that 
the constituent parcels did not lie consolidated within any iugum. 
Instead, they were likely to be scattered throughout several 
iuga, but through those which lay mainly in one section of the 
township. This situation seems not to have been the original 
one, but to have arisen from the subdivision of a once compact 
holding among co-heirs or co-lessees. The acquisition by many 
of these new tenants of parcels in other iuga gave rise to the dis- 
creteness which the fifteenth century knew. The parcels at that 
time were arable, meadow, or pasture; and so far as they were 
arable and were ploughed by a large cooperative plough they may 
well have been strips like those of the midlands. On the downs in 
the southeastern part of the coimty such have been discerned. 
The rotation of crops was variable, sometimes resembling that 
of the midlands, but frequently tending toward an imbroken 
succession. The absence of a three-course rotation, and espe- 
cially of a large compact fallow field, made easily possible the 
reconsolidation of scattered parcels as soon as the tide turned in 
that direction. It apparently did so turn from the fifteenth 
century, and hence Kent early became characterized by the con- 
solidation and enclosure of its farms.^ Toward this enclosure 
the flexible field system contributed in no negligible degree. 

How ancient was the custom of subdividing holdings among 
heirs is not altogether clear. It was observed at Wye in the time 

^ The persistence of a heavy four-horse plough did not prevent enclosure, since 
Boys in his rqx>rt to the Board of Agriculture notes both phenomena (General 
View of the Agriculture of the County of Kent, pp. 21, 41, 44, 70). 


of Edward I, when the heirs aiq)ear in most cases as descendants 
of Normans. Yet a few iuga there derived their names from 
Anglo^axons or Danes — an indication that in some sense the 
iuga were before the Conquest connected with individuals. 
Whether the Anglo-Saxon tenant held for himself or for his 
family group must be left undetermined. If the latter relation- 
ship was the existent one, the custom of gavelkind is carried back 
to pre-Conquest days.* However this be, the Kentish system, in 
the subdivision and reconsolidation of its holdings, was not 
unlike the Celtic. It was in the size and shape of their respective 
imits that the two systems differed. The iugum of the one was 
rectangular and relatively small, the townland of the other irreg- 
ular in shape and larger. An explanation of these facts and of 
the origin of the Kentish s)rstem will be hazarded in a concluding 
summary and synthesis. 

^ Maitland remarks that there is no reason for assigning the body of Kentish 
custom characterized by tenure of gavelkind to a period earlier than the Conquest. 
Elsetdiere he notes that the Kentish viUani of D<»nesday Book seem not particu- 
larly distinguished from those of other counties among whom a system of impartiUe 
successions may at that time have prevailed. (PoUock and Maitland, History rf 
English Law, 2d ed., Cambridge, 1898, i. 187; ii. 373, 363). 


The East Anglian System 

Eighteenth-century survivals of open field in East Anglia offer 
suggestions about the character of the field system that once 
prevailed there, and this information is considerably amplified 
by sixteenth-century surveys. With the key thus secured earlier 
and less detailed data can be interpreted. 

Enclosure awards from Norfolk drawn up after 1750 show little 
surviving open arable field, and those from Suffolk almost none. 
The plan and appendix prepared by Slater to illustrate parlia- 
mentary enclosures in the northern county convey a wrong im- 
pression.^ Relying as he did upon the acts which authorized the 
awards, he failed to perceive a peculiarity of Norfolk procedure. 
For it came to be customary in the coimty, even when there was 
but little open arable field within a township, to ask for a nominal 
re-allotment of the entire township in order to obviate any per- 
sisting common rights and to establish authoritative titles to 
ownership. This procedure comes to light through a comparison 
of certain enclosure awards with nearly contemporary maps 
and surveys of the same townships made by W. J. Dugmore 
in 1778.* Relative to Weasenham All Saints, Weasenham St. 
Peter, and Wellingham, the enclosure award of 1809 declares that 
" all lands and grounds in the said several parishes ... do con- 
tain by measure 4406 acres," and this amount is forthwith allotted. 
One might conclude that all or much of the area in question was 
open field, were it not that the earlier Dugmore map reveals at 
Weasenham only. 421 acres of open arable field (in 337 parcels) 
and at Wellingham only about 50 acres. The Sparham and Bil- 

^ English Peasantry t pp. 197, 215, 290. He remarks that after 1793 the acts 
fail to make mention of areas. 

' The Dugmore mi^>s, which were drawn for Thomas W. Coke, Esq., are among 
the Holkham MSB., and the awards referred to are either in the same cdlection or 
at the Shire Hall in Norwich. 



lingford enclosure award of 1809 allots almost all of the 3533 
acres which constitute the two townships, but the Dugmore map 
shows that not more than one-sixth of this area was in open field.^ 
Although the entire parish of Longham containing 1286 acres 
was the subject of the enclosure award of 1814, the map of 1778 
shows it already enclosed except for some twenty-one strips of 
open field which contained less than 50 acres. Finally, the 
Warham award of 1813, which annoimces that the entire parish 
of 2303 acres is to be divided and allotted, should be interpreted 
in connection with a map of 171 2, in which one-half of the parish 
is seen to be already enclosed.* Because of this aspect of parlia- 
mentary enclosure in Norfolk, any inference as to the amoimt of 
arable open field existent there after 1750, so far as it is based 
upon parliamentary petitions and acts, is imtrustworthy. 

Nor, indeed, is it possible to get from the awards themselves 
very accurate information on this subject. The plans, which 
alone are useful, are so intent upon the new allotments as only 
occasionally to indicate by fine lines what the old arrangements 
were. In a general way, however, the existing enclostires left 
unchanged in an award can usually be distinguished by their 
irregular, more or less quadrilateral shape. To judge from them, 
it appears that at times hardly any open-field strips remained, 
the award evidently having been made in order to abolish certain 
rights of conmion which might still be claimed over enclosed land.* 
The phraseology of other awards makes it difficult, if not im- 
possible, to determine how much of the area actually affected by 
them was waste and how much was arable.* Under these dr- 

^ About 125 acres in Sparham and from 400 to 500 acres in Billingford. 
' The Wailiam map of 1712 is at Holkham Hall. 

* Among such awards are those relating to Great Walsmgham, Little Walstng- 
ham, and Houghton (181 2), Mileham and Beeston (18x4), Gresham and Sustead 
(1828), all at the Shire Hall, Norwich. A similar award relative to Winforton, 
Herefordshire, has been noted above, p. 140. 

* The preamble of the Wootton award of 1813 declares that it is concerned with 
394 acres of ** open and common fields, fens, conmions and waste lands." Each 
allotment, however, refers more accurately to *' commons, fens, and waste lands," 
while the plan shows that the area in question was unimproved land on the out- 
skirts of an enclosed township. The Wymondham award of 1810 notes that the 
'* lands and grounds directed to be divided, allotted, and indosed contain 2285 


cumstances an examination of all the available awards and plans, 
such as has been made for Oxfordshire and Herefordshire and 
such as here too would be the only safe basis for a generalization, 
promises an imsatisfactory return for a great expenditure of 
labor. If imdertaken, it would, we may safely surmise, show 
few townships with so much as one-third of their improved area 
still in open field, and in most townships the fraction would be 
less than one-tenth.^ William Marshall's description, written 
in 1787, supports this view. It rims as follows: " Some remnants 
of common fields still remain; but in general they are not larger 
than well-sized inclosures. Upon the whole. East Norfolk at 
large may be said to be a very old-inclosed coimtry. . . . [The] 
few common fields [left] ... are in general very small; ten, 
twenty or thirty acres; cut into patches and shreds of two or 
three acres, down to half an acre, or, perhaps, a rood each. 
. . . Towards the north coast some pretty extensive common-fields 
remain open; and some few in the southern Himdreds." * 

If it be true that Norfolk arable fields were very largely en- 
dosed without the aid of parliamentary act, the period at which 
the process took place most rapidly becomes a matter of interest. 
The subject cannot here be adequately discussed, but the testi- 
mony of one or two groups of dociunents may be noted. 
Sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century surveys, of which 
there are several from this coimty, concur in representing the 

acres." A schedule denominates 1934 acres as " Total com. Allots." and 351 acres 
as " Total Field Allots." Only from the excellent map do we discover that the 
X934 acres were the old enclosures, and that the 351 acres were parcels on the 
outskirts of the township looking very much like waste land. Both these awards 
are at the Shire Hall, Norwich. 

1 The coQunon field at Fellbrigg before its enclosure in 177 1 was, according to 
the reporter to the Board of Agriculture, unusually extensive. He remarks that the 
township had remained time out of mind in the following state: 400 acres inclosed, 
400 common field, 100 woodland, 400 common heath (Nathaniel Kent, General 
View of the AgricuUure of the County of Norfolk, London, 1794, p. 23). Relatively 
large was the expanse of open arable field at Ormesby, where in 1S45 ^^ amounted 
to 700 acres, in contrast with 1464 acres of old enclosures and 531 acres of roads 
and conmions. At Weasenham and Wellingham about 500 acres were in 1809 un- 
enclosed in townships comprising an area of 4406 acres. 

' The Rural Economy of Norfolk, comprising the Management of Landed Estates 
amd the Present Practice of Husbandry in that County (London, 1787), L 4, 8. 


open fields as still mainly intact.^ Considerable enclosing there- 
fore took place at some time between 1600 and 1750. How 
much of it occurred before 17 14 may be in part discerned 
from a summary of the plans of nineteen estates lying in a 
somewhat larger number of townships in the central and eastern 
part of the county and belonging to St. Helen's, the Bo)rs', and 
other hospitals in Norwich.* 

It will be seen that about eighty per cent of the total area of 
these estates was enclosed when the plans were made; but whether 
most doses had arisen through encroachments upon the open 
fields may be doubted, since in nine estates all or a part of 
them bordered upon the respective common wastes. In those 
estates, however, in which enclosures from the waste play a 
smaller part, the open and enclosed areas nearly balance each 
other. In the Trowse and Bixley property of 58 acres the 
area of the scattered enclosed plats was 34 acres, that of the 
open-field strips 24 acres; in the Buxton estate there were 
20 acres enclosed, 18 open; at Shropham, the open-field strips 
seem to have contained about the same nimiber of acres as the 
scattered closes, neglecting enclosures from the common; at 
Snitterton imenclosed strips predominated. In general, then, it 
is possible that not more than one-half of the open arable fields in 
the region roimd Norwich had been enclosed before 17 14. 

The method followed in bringing about enclosure before this 
date was the piecemeal one described by Nathaniel Kent at the 
end of the eighteenth century and still employed at that time.' 

^ Certain of these surveys are referred to below (p. 313 sq,) in the discussion 
of field arrangements. Corbett, describing the open fields of six Norfolk villages, 
infers that in four instances enclosure had affected not more than one-half of the 
arable and in the two others much less than this C' Elizabethan Village Surveys/' 

p. 87). 

' Cf. p. 309. These plans, which are among the Norwidi records kept in the 

castle, were made known to me through the kindness of J. S. Tingey, Esq. 

* " There is still a considerable deal of common field land in Norfolk, though a 

much less proportion than in many other counties; for notwithstanding common 

rights for great cattle exist in all of them and even sheep walk privfleges in many, 

yet the natural industry of the people b such, that wherever a person can get four 

or five acres together, he plants a white thorn hedge round it, and sets an oak at 

every tod distance, which is consented to by a kind of general courtesy from one 

neic^bor to another " {fimtnd View of Ike AgncuUme of Norfolk, p. 22). WQliam 





^ Am 
in Acres 

No. of 

How Situated 

Open Field 

in Acres 

No. of 



Swanton Moriey 

Buiston . 




Trowse and Bixley. 


CalthiopeandWoolverton 94 

Barton .. 



Buxton, Haveringham, 

Oieat Melton 

Sallows and Wraxham . 
































A compact area near the 

Non-contiguous parceb. 

A compact though elon- 
gated area. 

A compact area. 

A compact area near the 

A compact area. 

One group of four closes, 
another of three. 

An elongated area twice 
broken by tongues of 

Six non-contiguous par- 

A compact area adjoining 
the common. 

Four non-adjacent par- 

Two non-adjacent closes. 

A compact area adjoining 
the common. 

adjoining the common. 

Four closes in the com- 
mon and two home 

Two detached closes in 
the field and five home 

Three non-adjacent closes 
of II acres in the field, 
the remainder in two 
large blocks bordering 
the common. 

A compact area bordering 
the fen and marshes. 

cds, and 89 acres of 
















Plans of the Norwich hospital estates often show single strips 
enclosed as long rectangular ''pightles." At Shropham there 
were seventeen such, most of them non-adjacent and with a 
total area of 38 acres; one containing seven acres is labelled '' for- 
merly several pightles." At Great Melton there was in Bow field 
an enclosed piece of one acre and another strip of one and one- 
half acres ''partly inclosed"; at Shipham two separate acre 
strips were partly enclosed. In these plans, too, is discernible 
another characteristic of Norfolk fields which was conducive to 
piecemeal enclosure. At Shropham a half-acre strip is labelled 
" a piece in Clark's Close," and near by two other strips together 
containing one acre are '' pieces in another dose." In these cases 
the enclosure of a furlong had preceded consolidation of owner- 
ship. It is not, however, by any means certain that such con- 
ditions arose only after the sixteenth century; for early charters 
sometimes refer to non-contiguous strips in the same croft, as, 
for instance, " tres pede divise in Lyckemillecroft." * Whether 
the phenomenon be early or late, it undoubtedly contributed 
to informal endosure. 

If we turn from the enclosure of Norfolk open fields to con- 
sider the aspect of such of them as did persist into the early 
years of the eighteenth century, we find the plans of the estates 
of the Norwich hospitals still instructive. Although, as we have 
seen, about one-third of these estates were endosed and another 
third had in each case only three or four detached strips of land, 
the remaining third retained considerable open field. It is the 
situation of these open-field strips that for the moment is of 
interest. An estate of 38 acres in Buxton, pictured in the 
accompanying plan, extended into two adjacent parishes. Near 
the farmhouse were five doses containing together 1 2 acres, while 
at a distance was a detached close of 6 acres. The remaining 20 

Marshall notes the inconvenience arising from such procedure. " But another 
species of intermixture, much more disagreeable to the occupier, is here singulariy 
prevalent. It is very conmion for an indosure, lying, perhaps, in the center of an 
otherwise entire farm, to be cut in two by a slip of glebe or other land lying in it; 
and still more common for suiall indosures to be similarly situated " {Rural Economy 
of Norfolk/i. S). 

> P. R. O. Andent Charter A 3138, temp. Edw. I. 



acres lay in twenty-one strips, all non-contiguous, except that 
three abutted upon others. The parcels, however, were^not 
widely scattered. All lay in the same part of the township^^not 
far from the farmstead, and some were obviously either in the 
same furlong or in adjacent furlongs. Another estate of 255 

. Reduced Plan of an Estate belongtaig to the Oirli' Hospital, 

Norwich, and situated in the Townships of Buxton, 

HaTerinfl^iam, and Straton, Norfolk. Total area, 88 acres. ni4J 


acres in Shropham lay on the edge of the common, from which 
•90 acres of " Breck Lands '* had been appropriated.* Eighteen 
other enclosures, which together contained about loo acres, were 
for the most part detached from one another, and several had 
evidently been strips of open field. The remaining 65 acres still 
lay in open field divided into forty-two strips, some of which were 
in the same furlong (here called " field ")• Although the parcels 

^ Cf. plate, p. 312. 


of this estate, both open and enclosed, were numerous and dis- 
parate, they did not lie scattered throughout the township, but 
were near the farmhouse. As at Buxton, the farm was one of 
non-contiguous parcels lying in the same section of the village 
area. The four other ho^ital estates which retained most open 
field show similar characteristics.^ 

These field arrangements can in 1714 scarcely have been 
recent. If they were, they would have to be explained as repre- 
senting a transitional stage between widely-scattered strips on 
the one hand and enclosures on the other. Apart from the cum- 
bersomeness of a procedure that would eventually necessitate 
another exchange, the uniformity of the evidence tells against an 
original wide dissemination of strips. Although in some cases 
tentative exchanges may have occurred, such a process can hardly 
have gone on systematically and to the same degree in all the 
properties before us. Not one of the six is an estate with parcels 
scattered throughout the village area. If, on the other hand, it 
be true that the arrangements of 17 14 are an inheritance from a 
considerably earlier period, we have a contrast to the midland 
system, the essence of which lay in a wider and more nearly 
uniform distribution of parcels. 

For the sixteenth century, admirable data regarding field 
arrangements are furnished by surveys and maps such as were 
made to describe many of the earl of Leicester's estates.* In 
these documents there is xisually no subdivision by '' fields " in 
the technical midland sense,' but the enimieration proceeds by 
furlongs, frequently called stadia or quaretUinae. Sometimes, 
happily, these fiu-longs are so groiq>ed that we can tell in what 
part of the village area certain of them lay. They are referred 
to " precincts," divisions formed usually by the highways that 
traverse the township.^ East Carleton and Hethilde were each 

^ These estates were at Snitterton, Great Mdton, Trowse and Bixley, Sallows 
and Wroxham. 

* These are among the well-arranged records at Holkham Hall, for access to 
whkh I am mdebted to the Rt. Hon. the Earl of Leicester, R. G. 

* Corbett, in his study of certain Norfolk surveys (" Elizabethan Village Sur- 
veys," p. 70, remarks upon the uninqx>rtanoe of the fields. 

* Miss Davenport found mention of only precincts in the Fomcett records 
(Economic Devdo^metU of a Norfolk Manor, Cambridge, 1906, p. i). 


thus subdivided into five precincts; ^ Bumham Sutton had three, 
one being considerably smaller than the others; * Weasenham 
was cut by the Massingham road into a North and a South pre- 
cinct, the two being approximately equal in extent.' When 
** fields " do occur in the surveys they are as inconsequent as the 
precincts, being determined by the topography of the parish, the 
relative position of its highways, or the points of the compass. 
In the same region there thus arose two, three, four, or five 
fields. Castle Acre had three. West, Middle, and East, divided 
by highways and of approximately the same size; ^ not far away, 
Warham had five imequal fields.* 

Among such haphazard fields or precincts we should hardly 
expect to find an equal distribution of the parcels of the various 
holdings. From the accompanying tabulation of a few of those 
at Castle Acre, which has most the semblance of a three-field 
parish, it can be seen how indifferent to the '' fields " was the 
distribution of acres.* In the first holding nearly three-fourths of 
the acres lay in West field, in contrast with one-twelfth of them in 
Middle field; in the second holding three-fourths, again, lay in 
West field, with the remainder in Middle field and none whatever 
in East field. The third holding redresses the balance by assign- 
ing to East field nearly 70 per cent of its acres and to West field 
less than 10 per cent. Still other holdings lay largely in Middle 
field, like that of Domina Bell, 80 per cent of whose land 
was there. Such arrangements are, of course, inconsistent with 
the midland adaptation of fields to a three-course rotation of 

At West Lexham the departure from the midland system took 
another form. As a map of 1575 shows,^ there was no division 

^ Stowe MS. 870 (fidd-book of 13 Elb.). 
> Rawl. MS.. B 390 (fidd-book of 38 Eliz.). 

* Holkham Recoitls, fidd4x>ok of 42 Eliz., and nop of tlie same date (cf. 
below, p. 327). 

« Holkham Maps, No. 18. The fidds lay to tbe north of tbe village, whence two 
highways extend to the north and northwest. Biiddle fidd lay between these hi^- 
ways, the other fields to the west and east rcspectivdy. 

* Holkham Deeds 182, 30 Elis. 

* Holkham Deeds 57 (fidd-book of 25 Eliz.). 

^ It b among the Holkham Records and b sketched in the accompanying cut. 



by fields or precincts, but the two largest holdings lay in strips 
in the nprthem two-thirds of the township, while the small hold- 
ings were for the most part thrown together in intermixed strips 
south and southeast of the village. Neither in the township as 
a whole nor in this southern part of it is there trace of tripartite 

Of all sixteenth-century Norfolk records those of Weasenham 
give the most satisfactory idea of the management of the open 
field in the northwestern part of the coimty. Particularly useful 
are (i) a large map of 1600, in two parts, giving the names of 
many of the open-field furlongs, with an accompanying field- 
book recording the areas and locations of the constituent parcels 
of the tenants' holdings; and (2) the note-book of a Weasenham 
farmer, George Elmdon, describing the sowing of his lands in 
1583, 1584, 1588, and 1589. From this group of documents we 
can discover how the tenants' holdings were distributed among 
the precincts and how the parcels of Elmdon's holding were 
grouped for tillage. The map is here outlined, selected holdings 
from the field-book are summarized, and the information from 
the note-book is both tabulated and interpreted topographically. 

The map is slightly incomplete in that it does not give the 
whole of one sheep pasture.^ A later plan shows this pasture or 
" fold-course," which is in the northwestern part of the township, 
to have been at least twice as large as the other fold-course, which 
is represented. Apart from these two fold-courses, some small 
commons, and a few enclosures, all lands were open arable field. 
This open field, constituting about two-thirds of the township's 
area, was cut into two nearly equal parts by the Massingham road, 
which divided the Northern from the Southern precinct. In the 
Southern lay the hamlet and parish of Weasenham St. Mary 
with its church; in the Northern, the hamlet and parish of 
Weasenham St. Peter, the church here being just south of the 
road. If we turn to the field-book to discover the relation of 
the tenants' holdings to the precincts, we find that the larger 
holdings were nearly always unequally divided between precincts 
and that the smaller ones frequently lay wholly within one 

^ The outline of the map is on p. 333. 

Map XV 



prednct.^ This arrangement precludes the possibility that 
Weasenham was at the end of the sixteenth century cultivated 
as a two-field township. 

One of these late sixteenth-century holdings about which we 
are well informed is that of George Elmdon, who, as noted above, 
in four separate years (1583, 1584, 1588, 1589) made careful 
record of how each parcel of his arable was sown. The account, 
which is unique and valuable, shows that much of the holding 
was leasehold and varied somewhat in amoimt from year to year. 
When in 1 588 Elmdon drew up a list of the lands in his possession, 
he had 71 acres of enclosed arable and meadow, 12 acres of open 
meadow, and 199 acres of open arable field. The notes that 
describe the sowing of crops accoimt for from 120 to 160 acres 
yearly, but in the record of any one year a part of the open-field 
arable usually fails to appear, because laid down for the time 
in grass. An idea of the character of these notes will be got from 
the following transcript, relative to the year 1584: — 

" Wynter come stubble to sowe barlye on pro anno 1585 

In dritdakesmere xi* 

super Overgate versus boream zii* iii' di. 

Dowespitt iii' 

Roysdike als Rushdike di. et ii* yt John Bulges had wheat on ii^ dL 

Rougham deale i* di. 

Ildemere furionge et ho^ond iii^ et di. 

Netheidotslands iiii pec' iii^ di. rod. 

Sale3rard i' di. 

LaweU furionge ii* i' 

Nether blacklonds i' di. 

Nether calgrave iii' 

Al>b[utting] super marketstie versus austnim i^ 

Item in the SouthfeOd iii' pease ex ocddente de horswonge, 

yt was barlie the last yerc iii' 

[Total, 40) acres.] 

^ Holkham Records, field-book of 42 Eliz. The following cases are typical: — 

•l«^^__& ** - - - — SoutherD Noftiieni 

Manor oT NorthaU i 183I xnt 

Manor ol EasUudl i aos 117I 

Edward Coke, Esq 6 103! 337 

Antbonie Brovner, Esq i 130} i8| 

John Buifcss I x6i ai 

Hillarie Forby t 3 29 

John Baitoo i 304 17I 

John Billings i 5 i| 

Thoa. Lint* i 3I 

Thoa. Wright I .... 15 


'' Ollands broken upp befoer Xrmas 1584 to sowe barlie on pro 
an. 1585 by gods grace 

In Langmere furlonge linge togeather ex latere austral! v', v% 

i», i», !• di. dd oUand vi» i' 

Itm a gone three rods prope le wyndmill in bastard Sommer- 

ley at Baylies request for ease in drivinge cattle iii' 

In Bumhowe deale of oUand very latelie layd iii' 

In stadioabb[utting] super northallmilhill versus ocddentem i* 

In newdikemere of oUand latelie layd i^ 

In newbie prope Mr. Ydvertons i^ di. 

Itm my haye close i» di. 

Itm Cookes close i^ 

[Total, 13I acres.] Siunma Iv* i' 
Inde pease viii* di. rod, Otes iii% Bariye zlvi* i' di. 



A breif of all my somerlies pro anno 1585 

In Westgate feild voc[atum] the Southfeild, viz., ulvescit>ft, 

horsewong, brokback, Brenwonge, et Newbie xx* di. 

In Mildele et Longlond i* iii' 

In the newe broken feild xi* i' di. 

In Raisdele i* di. 

In Blackland feild xiiii* i' di. 

[Total, 48 acres.] » 

Wynter Comes god prosper it sowen at Mich[aelmas] 1584 

Barkers croft in una peda v* 

Hallonge furlong in xiv pedis ix* iii' 

Langmere * *iiii * vi*iii' 

Endike « «iii * vfdi. 

Howland * * i peda i» i' 

Abutt[ing] super millhill bothom versus ocddentem in iii 

pedis u» m' 

Bumhowedele in i peda i* di. 

In stadio ad finem borialem de Shortlond furlong in i peda iii' dL 
In stadio ad finem orientalem ex latere australi de Auppitt 

furlong in i pecia i' di. 

Middecrofte in una peda i* 

Powlesfeiki in iiii pedis ii* i' di. 

W5mter come god blesse et prosper it sowen As[cension] 1584 

Wheat in pawles feilde nere Auppitfurlong and bdowe the 

wyndmill viii» iii' di. 

and above the wyndmill ex parte australi de Massingham 

wey sowen before this v^ of October, 1584 ix* iii' di. 

^ In the margin are written in Arabic numerals other areas, the sum of which is 



'^ Messylen sowen at michelmes 1584 

The upper end of i* dL in Burnhowe bothome 

i' di. in howlond furiong 

di. acra ex austro de le wyndmill 

the V small lands in Hallonge f uilong ii* i' 

Summa messikn iv* ii' di. 
[Total winter com and '' messylen," 6ii acres.] '' ^ 

This account, it will be seen, begins with an itemization of 40! 
acres, which in the autumn of 1584 were winter-corn stubble. 
Since alone they did not suffice for the barley crop of the next 
year, some 14 acres of " ollands " were broken up before Christ- 
mas to be added to them. These ollands were parcels which for 
a longer or shorter period (" old oUand," or " oUand very latelie 
layd ") had been in grass, the term being applied to land enclosed, 
but particularly to strips in open field. Most of the 14 acres 
were of the latter character, and nearly one-half of them lay in 
Langmere furlong near the wheat stubble. Similar strips of 
open-field arable under grass have been met with in Leicester- 
shire and in Durham in the early seventeenth centmy,* where 
in a measure their presence betokened the decay of the open 
field. Here in Norfolk they were a reserve upon which the 
tenant could draw at any time to increase his allotment for a 
particular crop. In 1588 Elmdon was tenant of some 27 acres 
in ndemere furlong and Westlongland furlong, but he ploughed 
only 14 of them; the rest were probably in ollands. To judge 
from the divergence between his total open-field arable in that 
year and the portion which he ploughed, his ollands must have 
amoimted to about one-fifth of his open field (38 acres out of 199) . 

What further appears from the enumeration is that practically 
the same areas of open field were set apart for winter com, for 
spring com, and for " somerlie " or fallow; and this is tme not 
only for the year 1584 but for 1583 and 1588, as the following 
summary shows: — 


1583. Acres 

Sowen wynter come at Michadmas 41) 

Wheat Stubble at Michadmas 41} 

Pease and Bariie Stubble at Michaelmas b^ +1 

^ Hdkham Deeds, 2d series, 231. * Cf. above, pp. 35, 106. 


Wynter cornes sowen at Michaelmas and at Ascension 56} \ ^ 1 

Messylen sowen at Michaelmas 4} / 

Wynter come stubUe to sowe bariye on [40)] 1 . 

OUands broken upp befoer Xrmas to sowe barlie on . . [13I] / 
Somerlie pro anno 1585 [48] 


Wynter Come growing in Maye 55i 

Barlie, otes, pease, and fetches god bless them sowen in Maye 54) 
[Somerlie not given] 

1589 (July 15). 

Wynter come nowe growinge [33] 

Barlie, pease, otes, sowen '89 64} 

Somerlie pro anno 89 et pro siligne 90 48 '' 

The only divergence from symmetry here occurred in the year 
1589, when the area mider spring com was increased at the 
expense of the winter-corn crop. So relatively exact was the 
division of the other years as strongly to suggest a three-course 
husbandry, and the suggestion becomes a certainty if the par- 
cels sown together at any time be followed from year to year. 
Although the group which, for example, was imder winter com in 
1584 was not precisely the same group that was under spring com 
in 1585 and again in 1588, it was nearly the same. Perhaps one- 
third or one-fourth of the parcels changed during the period; but 
enough remained constant to establish the important fact that a 
three-course husbandry was to a large extent employed on tenants' 
land in Norfolk open fields at the end of the sixteenth century. 

If it were tme that a three-course husbandry implied a three- 
field system, we should at this point declare Norfolk fields akin to 
those of the midlands. Since, however, the one does not neces- 
sarily involve the other,^ and since certain features about the 
Weasenham descriptions are imusual, it is desirable to locate, if 
possible, the three groups of parcels into which Elmdon's open- 
field arable was roughly but pretty continuously divided. This 
we may do approximately by comparing the names and descrip- 
tions of his parcels with the excellent map of 1600. The result 
is shown on the accompanying plan.^ 

^ Cf. above, p. 45. 

' Although most of the furlongs of the original map are named, certain of them 
are not, a fact which renders the exact location of a few of the parcels problematic. 



It will be noticed that at least two-thirds of Elmdon's parcels 
lay in the Southern precinct — that is, to the south of Massing- 
ham way — and that within this precinct they tended to con- 
centrate near " Overgate " and " Milstye." None were easit of 

Map XVI 

the church, and apparently there were none near Goos^ate, 
which ran to the south. A few of the Milstye group extended 
into the Northern prednct, on the other side of Massingham way. 
Elsewhere in this prednct, which was larger than the Southern, 
Elmdon had only two small groups of parcds, one toward the 
west, the oth^ toward the northeast In another way we thus 
arrive at the conclusion which has already been reached from a 

bowevtr, and the 

The ninri of tlie highways aad fiekl paths are of 
tOQ^ groqping of the sketch is rea s oaa h ly aocmmtc 


consideration of the totals of the field-books of Weasenham and 
Castle Acre, the conclusion namely that in Norfolk a tenant's 
arable acres were likely to be concentrated within a particular 
precinct or field of the township. 

Holdings so constituted can be reconciled with the existence 
of a two- or three-field system only on the assumption that a 
township had groups of two or three fields and that the parcels 
concentrated lay in one of these groups. Of Elmdon's three 
groups of parcels that were assigned successively to winter com, 
spring com, and fallow, two, those near Overgate and Milstye, 
were each distinctly segregated; and the two may conceivably 
be thought of as having lain in two compact fields. These fields 
would, however, have constituted only about one-fourth of the 
total unenclosed arable, an excessive concentration implying 
that there were five or six other similar fields. Apart from 
the attribution of so large a number of fields to Weasenham in 
the sixteenth century, a difficulty arises regarding Elmdon's 
third group of parcels. This, instead of being compact, broke 
into three sub-groups, one lying in the southwest of the township 
near the Overgate group, the others in the Northern precinct 
widely removed one from the other. What we actually have, 
then, is a concentration of two groups of parcels and part of the 
third within a relatively circumscribed portion of the township's 
arable. Such locations preclude a six-field arrangement, and one 
of eight fields does not comport with three-course husbandry. 
Despite the three-course rotation of crops at Weasenham, there- 
fore, the distribution of Elmdon's parcels conflicts with the 
assumption that the township was one of three or of six fields. 

Other features of Elmdon's notes emphasize this conclusion. 
The writer never says, as he so easily might have done had the 
system been simple, " Sown with winter com, all parcels in X 
field." On the contrary, he nearly always assigns his strips to 
furlongs, with only an occasional mention of fields. The area 
round Westgate is at times, to be sure, vaguely referred to as 
Westgate field or South field, but in it lay parcels devoted to 
different crops. In it, too, lay at least two-thirds of Elmdon's 
holding. Since for these reasons it cannot be thought of as 


functioning like a midland field, the designation without doubt 
had merely a topograj^cal connotation. Again, we hear of 
Kipton field, so named from its proximity to the site of the 
manor of Kipton. Here lay 12} acres of Elmdon's land; but 
inasmuch as these same acres are elsewhere referred to as in 
the " newe-broken field " and were situated not far from the 
'' Shepes pasture of Kipton and Northall," the " field " in ques- 
tion may have been a newly-improved tract of arable. 

As was just noted, parcels within the same field were at times 
not imder the same crops as neighboring parcels. Although, in 
1583, 13 acres of Blackland field lay in wheat stubble, 4} acres 
of the same field were at the same time in pease stubble. One 
of the parcels in the extract quoted had been under barley for 
one season and was to be so during the next year.^ In the fur- 
long called Newbie there were in 1589 some parcels fallow and 
some sown with winter com. All this implies considerable flexi- 
bility in the utilization of the open field. The existence of oUands, 
or strips of grass in the midst of winter and spring com, testifies 
further to the same characteristic and helped make it possible. 

This flexibility appears most strikingly in the sowing of Elm- 
don's open field in 1589. In this year, it will be remembered^ 
the acres hitherto equally divided between winter com, spring 
com, and fallow were unequally apportioned. In preceding 
years, to each crop and to the '' somerlie " had been allotted 
about 40 acres (1583) or about 55 (1584, 1588). In 1589, the 
total acreage accoimted for was 145 acres. As usual, one-third 
of this, 48 acres, was somerlie; of the remainder only 32 acres 
were devoted to wheat, while upon 65 acres spring grains were 
sown. Sudi expansion and contraction of the acreage assigned 
to a particular crop would have been possible under a three-field 
system only if all tenants had agreed to shift for the year the 
boundaries of the three fields. In Elmdon's note-book there is 
no hint that his dispositions rest upon communal arrangements 
of this sort. 

As a result of the implications of Elmdon's notes, we are led 
to conclude that a three-course rotation of crops in the open 

* Cf. above, p. 318. 


fields of Norfolk was not necessarily indicative of a three-field 
system. On the contrary, it proved feasible to till parcels con- 
centrated in one part of the open field in such a manner as to 
allot one-third of them to winter com, (me-third to spring com, 
and to leave one-third fallow. Under these circumstances each 
third naturally consisted, as far as possible, of neighboring 
parcels. It may seem, however, that the introduction in the 
same year of two crops and a fallow within a limited portion of 
the township's arable was a retrogression from the principles of 
the midland system; that the obvious convenience of the large and 
simple divisions of that arrangement was sacrificed, inasmuch as 
a compact fallow field for the pasturage of sheep and cattle 
thus became impossible in East Anglia. Such questionings are 
pertinent and bring us to a new aspect of the subject, namely, 
the provision made for the pasture of cattle and sheep in East 
Anglian fields. 

Certain items regarding Weasenham may serve as introduc- 
tion. The map of 1600, and still better that of 1726-28, show 
two large " sheep's courses " distinct from the open fields, one 
appertaining to the manors of Kipton and Northall, the other 
to the manor of Easthall.^ Relative to the open strips them- 
selves the schedule accompan3dng the later map gives informa- 
tion. Apart from 717 acres of " break " (the former sheep's 
course of Northall and Kipton), the largest of Sir Thomas Coke's 
farms comprised arable land described as follows: — 
'' Subject to its own flock and including whole year groimds, 

265 acres. 
Subject to the flock of Easthall, 56 acres, 
and to Lord Townshends [flock] in Little Raynham and 

Martin Raynham, 42 acres." 
From this it appears that the sheep within a township fell into 
flocks, each manor having its own flock. Any particular parcel 
of open-field arable was " subject " to a certain flock, perhaps 
not to that of the proprietor of the land in question. Pasturage 
arrangements were not devised with a view to the township as a 
whole, as in a midland village, where rights of pasturage over 

* Cf. above, p. 322. 


the commons and fallow field inhered in the conununity and 
were jointly exercised by all its land-holding members. In Nor- 
folk pasturage rights over certain pastures and certain portions 
of the fallow field (together called " fold-courses ") appertained 
only to particular proprietors, other land-holders being excluded. 
Since this was the practice, it would have served no end had 
George Elmdon's acres been distributed among three fields. When 
one-third of them lay fallow, they would not have been open to 
all the sheep of the township, but would have been reserved for 
a particular flock. All arable which in any year lay fallow in 
the township did not form one common pasture, but had to be 
subdivided in accordance with the claims of the several flocks. 

If it be thought that the Weasenham evidence in this matter is 
insufficient, there is fuller information relative to Holkham, near 
by. A map of this township, dated 1590, discloses its pasturage 
arrangements,^ which are further explained by the report of a 
special royal conmiission sent in 1584 to ascertain the queen's 
rights in the " common wastes.'' * The map shows a large South 
field equal in size to both of the other fields, which were known 
as Church and Stathe. The marshes to the north next the sea 
constitute one conmion, the Lyng on the southeast another. 
Across fields and commons are traced the boundaries of four fold- 
courses, each comprising about one-fourth of the township's arable 
and common waste,' but the boundaries nowhere correspond 
with those of the fields. Three of these fold-courses represent 
the three manors of the township. The fourth " is fed with the 
sheepe of one Edmimd Newgate and others the Inhabitimts and 
house holders there. But whether Newgate's be taken as a folde 
corse or no we [the jurors] knowe not."^ This arrangement 

^ Holkham Maps, No. i, sketched m the accompanying cut 

* Duchy of Lancaster, Special Commission, No. 350. The commission and a 
part of the return have been printed by Hubert Hall, A Pamnda Book of Em^k 
Official Historical Documents (2 pts., Cambridge, 190S-09), iL 17. 

* They are known as North course, Caldowe course, Wheatley*s course (also 
called Grigg's), and Newgate's course. The first includes one-half of the nmrsh^^ 
all of Churdb field, and a part of South field; the second, a large part of Soudi field 
and one-half of the Lyng; the third, the remainder of the Lyng, widi parts of South 
fidd and Stathe field; the fourth, a part of Stathe field and one-half of the marshes. 

« Duchy of Lancaster, Special Commission, No. 350. The jury continues: " No 



Sketch of a Map of the 
Township of Holkham, Norfolk. 1600. 
— — — Boundarici ol Fold Couhm 





can only imply that each of the four flocks of sheep always had 
at its diq)osal about one-fourth of the umnq[>roved land of the 
township, and after harvest time could also be pastured over 
such of the arable as lay within the bounds of its fold-course. 
If we should try to picture the arable of any course as comprised 
within one of the three fields, we should at once see that such 
an arrangement would not have permitted the flock of the 
course in question to fare the same in winter-wheat years as in 
fallow ones. At times all of the course would have been under 
crops, at times all of it fallow. If stubble fodder was always to 
be available for each of several flocks of a township, a system 
different from the typical three-field one must have been evolved. 
Within each fold-course some parcels of land must have been 
under winter crops, others imder spring crops, and others fallow. 
The actual situation is disclosed in an indenture of 26 Eliza- 
beth that conveyed the Holkham manor called Nealds, alias 
Lucas.^ This manor, we are told, consisted of 25 acres which 
formed the site of the manor-house, 234 acres in South field, 
67 in Church field, and 88 in Stathe field. Appurtenant to these 
lands were certain common rights of pasture, viz. : — 

(a) ** Item a Liberty of Fould course and Fouldage and shacke 
with shepe in the southe fielde of Holkham [but, as the map 
shows, by no means over the entire South field]. 

(b) *' Item a common of pasture ... for horse, neate, and 
sheepe at all tymes in the year in fourteen score acres lyinge in 
the southe parte of Holkham Common L3aige. [This area and 
the preceding comprised " Caldowe fold course " on the map.] 

(c) *' Item another common of pasture ... in all tymes of 
the year for horse, neate, and swyne in all the commons of Holk- 
ham aforesayde. 

(d) " Item another common of pasture ... for horse, neate, 
and swyne [but not for sheep] uppon all the feilds, grounds, and 
marshes within Holkham aforesaid lyinge freshe and unsowne 

man ought to kepe or mainteyne any folde corse within the marshe. But of late 
there is one Edmund Newgate taketh upon [him] to kepe five hundred shept there 
whereas before tyme his Grandfather and others Kepte not above two hundred 
yet there upon theire privat marshe." 
1 Holkham Records, uncatalogued. 


yearly from the feaste of St. Mychael the archeAngell or the 
ende of harveste until the annunciation of our Ladye or untill 
suche tyme before the sayde feaste ... as the said feilds and 
grounds be sowen agayne." 

From this it is clear that all the village cattle ranged over the 
entire common waste throughout the year and over the imsown 
fields from October to February. From February to October 
they had no access to the fallow arable, which was reserved for 
the various flocks of sheep. Each flock of sheep, furthermore, 
never passed beyond the bounds of its fold-course; within this 
course it was presxunably folded from day to day over the fallow 
acres. Since in all probability wattles were used, no inconven- 
ience arose if sown and fallow acres lay side by side. Hence 
came the flexible, particularist, more modem system that was 
employed in the days of George Elmdon. It was an arrange- 
ment far better for the soil than was that of the midlands, since 
by it each parcel of arable was assured of fertilization during the 
fallow season. Some of the thriftless convenience of the mid- 
land system may have been sacrificed, but superior agricultural 
method and profitable sheep-raising were compensations. 

Touching the subjects discussed above — the distribution of 
the parcels of a holding throughout the arable area of the town- 
ship and the rotation of crops practiced upon them — we should 
like testimony from an earlier time than the end of the sixteenth 
century, and we happily find it in various items that carry back 
a little the regime of insignificant fields and three-course hus- 
bandry. Most numerous are data relating to Holkham. This 
township, it will be remembered, revealed on the map of 1591 
a large South field and two smaller fields to the north next the 
sea, called Church or West field and Stathe or North field. That 
the distribution of a tenant's acres among these three fields had 
for a long time been imequal, becomes apparent from an examina- 
tion of several earlier terriers. In 26 Elizabeth the manor of 
" Nealds " allotted its arable to the three in the proportion of 
233, 66, and 87 acres respectively,* while in 3 Edward VI the 
apportionment of the lands of Edward Newgate was 13, 7, and 

^ Holkham Records, uncatalogued. 


55 acres.* In a terrier of " Pomffrett " lands drawn up in 30 
Henry VIII the subdivision was 16, 2^, and 6 acres.' In 2 
Henry Vn Sir Thomas Briggs's manor of Hillhall was so situated 
that 132 acres lay in North field, 45 in Church field, and 390 
in South field.' The same manor was smaller in 17 Edward IV, 
and of its parcels 1 28 acres were in North field, with 68 in Stathe 
field, 33 in Church field, and 105 in South field.^ The nearest 
approach to an equal division of acres in the fifteenth-century 
Holkham terriers is the assignment of 19 acres of Galfridus Por- 
ter's holding to South field and 17 to North field;* but in a con- 
temporary conveyance, of 39 Henry VI the 50 acres which John 
Newgate transferred to his son Thomas lay almost entirely in the 
northeastern part of the village arable area." The distribution 
of the acres of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century holdings among 
the fields of Holkham thus seems to have been chronically 

For discovering what rotation of crops was favored in fifteenth- 
century Norfolk a Holkham charter of 20 September, 16 
Richard 11, is of value.' In an exchange of lands, John and 
Isabell L3aig '' invenenmt terras seisonatas ut inferius patet, 

i acra in crof ta de terra f rista semel arata non compostata, 
iiii acre dimidia in campo australi semel arate de terra firista 

non compostate [fallow, probably to be sown with wheat 

the next year] 
iiii acre dimidia in eodem campo que fuerunt cum ordeo anno 

elapso [seminate] semel arate non compostate [barley 

stubble, probably to lie fallow for a year] 
iiii acre in eodem compostate anno elapso non arate [probably 

sown with wheat in the year past and to be sown with 

barley in the coming season]." 

Here not only were the 12 acres all in the same field, but they 
were apparently imder a three-course rotation and were manured 

^ Holkham Records, uncatalogued. * Ibid. 

» Holkham Fidd-book, 75. < Ibid. 

* Holkham Records, uncatalogued. 

* Holkham Deeds, 2d series, 29. ^ Ibid., 77. 


at least once every three years. The sixteenth-century system 
is carried back to the end of the fourteenth, and assurance is 
given regarding the method of fertilization about which later 
surveys are silent.* 

Other East Anglian townships furnish early evidence not im- 
like that from Holkham. In the time of Henry VIII a manor 
at Scratby is described as comprising, besides 9 acres enclosed, 
29 acres in twelve parcels in South field and 16 acres in nine par- 
cels in North field.' A Great Massingham terrier of the late 
fifteenth century enumerates the parcels of three holdings in 
four unnamed fields.' The respective areas in acres were 8}, 
8f , 3h 7i; 9» 6i, 3I, 6f ; 2 J, 2 J, ij, ij: an irregularity in appor- 
tionment not to be remedied in any instance by a combination 
of the last two areas. In 8 Henry V a manor at Ormesby was 
held by several tenants whose parcels lay principally in North, 
South, and Littie fields, but so unevenly distributed as often to 
be almost entirely within one field.* At Rockland in 23 Henry 
VI the manor of Kyrkhall Moynes had its small parcels princi- 
pally in South and West fields, although there was something in 
North and East fields.^ Obviously, the distribution of the acres 
of fifteenth-century holdings among fields was as capricious as 
in the sixteenth century. 

Relative to the matter of tillage, a lease of the manor of Bed- 
dingfield, Suffolk, dated 19 Richard n, instructs us as to how 
certain lands there were sown. Eleven acres were in wheat, of 
which two were " compostate," two were fallow, six sown with 
barley, eight with peas, thirteen with oats.' Whether these 
acres were open or enclosed we do not learn, but the small num- 
ber left fallow points to a husbandry almost as far advanced for 

* The few other Holkham transfers of the fourteenth century whkh take the 
trouble to mention fields are regardless of exact division. Such is the case with 
3 acres which in 4 Edward III were in two pieces in South field, and with 6 acres 
of which in 2 Edward 11 at least 4I were in South field (Holkham Deeds, 2d series, 

37, 24). 

' Rents, and Survs., Portf. ia/59. * Ibid,, 22/54. 

» Jbid., 22/46. » Add. MS. 33228. 

* Add. Char. A 3338: " Terra seminata cum frumento zi acre unde ii acre 
compostate; item terra warecta ii acre; item cum ordeo vi acre; item cum pisa 
viii acre; item cum avena ziii acre." 


the fourteenth century as was the contemporary Kentish tillage 
which cultivated all arable acres yearly.* 

The foregoing testimony of surveys and terriers tends in general 
to show that Norfolk '^ fields " had from the beginning of the 
fifteenth century no agricultural significance, and that, although 
a three-course rotation usually prevailed, it was not dependent 
upon a three-field system. It may be objected, however, that 
an earUer system was then in decay, one in which names of fields 
had more than topographical connotation. Without doubt an 
old system was in decay in the fifteenth century, but scarcely 
in the sense intimated. What this earlier situation was must 
now be explained. 

With regard to tillage, the custom in East Anglian fields before 
the sixteenth century was not imlike that practiced by George 
Elmdon in the days of the Armada. Information on this subject 
is to be had from extents of Norfolk demesne lands contained in 
inquisitions post mortem of the first half of the fourteenth cen- 
tury.' Sometimes these contain statements which, with change 
of areas, are like the following from East Bradenham : '' Sunt c 
acre terre arabiUs per minus centum de quibus possunt seminari 
per annum be et seminate fuerunt ante mortem predicti Rogeri 
[inqiusition dated i6 June, 1 1 Edward HI] et valent per anniun xx 
solidos, pretium acre iiii d. Et totum residuum nihil valet per 
annum quia iacet ad warectam et in communi." ' The signifi- 
cant information here is that one-third of the demesne land was 
fallow throughout every third year, and then was of no value, 
since it lay in common. Occasionally the phrase is " in communi 
campo," leaving no doubt that the demesne was open common 
field.^ The townships about which this could be said lay in 
eastern as well as in western Norfolk, a fact that fixes the cus- 
tom upon the entire county.^ Although similar remarks about 

^ Cf. above, p. 30a. ' Cf. above, p. 46. 

» C. Inq. p. Mort., Edw. HI, F. 51 (n). 

< " Sunt cxz acre tene aiabflb . . . de quibus iifi™ acre tene aemmabantur 
hoc anno . . . et residuum iacet ad warectam et in communi campo ** (ibid^ 51 
(10), Newton). 

* Ibid., 46 (3) Gayton, 45 (iS) Rainham and Islington, aU three in the west of 
the county; 51 (10) Caistor and Hdksdon, in the center and east. 


Suffolk townships are less numerous/ they occur often enough 
to show that a three-coiu^ rotation upon open-field demesne 
could at this time be found throughout East Anglia.' 

Testimony like this, if from midland counties, has been 
dted as quasi evidence for the existence of a three-field system 
there.' Without doubt the presumption is that arable land 
which was fallow and common every third year lay in three (or 
six) common fields. Where other evidence, therefore, points to 
the prevalence of the three-field system, as it does in the mid- 
lands, a statement like that quoted above may be looked upon as 
credible testimony that a particular township had three compact 
open fields. With East Anglia, however, the case is different. 
There we have seen in the sixteenth century a three-course 
rotation of crops upon open fields divorced from a three-field 
system, and a similar situation in the fourteenth century is 
not improbable. The implication of the phrases in the extents 
will therefore depend upon other contemporary evidence touch- 
ing the location of holdings in the open fields. To interpret 
such evidence we shall have to determine the nature of East 
Anglian imits of villein tenure. Inasmuch as no reference to a 
virgate, the unit prevalent in the midlands and the north, has 
thus far been found here, it may be that the omission points 
to pecidiarities of field arrangements, just as the character of 
the Kentish iugum lay at the base of a unique field system. If 
so, the nature of the early unit of villein tenure in East Anglia 
assumes increased importance and demands attention. 

During the sixteenth century and even at a much later period 
certain parcels of an East An^an holding were often said to 

^ C. Inq. p. Mort., Edw. Ill, F. 41 (i), Thurston; 41 (19), MDnewden, Badxnon- 
disfidd, and Lidgate, the last two on the Cambridgeshire border. 

' But it was not universal. At Kettleburgh, in Su£folk, the soil was of poor 
quality (ddnHs), ** et quoUbet anno medietas iacet frisca et iacet in oommuni per 
totum annum " (ibid., 51 (2)). More noteworthy was the case of a tenement of 
sixty acres at Wymondham: " Sunt ibidem Ix acre terre arabilis . . . unde 
seminabantur hoc anno semine yemali ante mortem predicte AHde [inquisition, 
2 June, 15 Edw. m] zz acre et semine quadragesimali zxx acre. ... Et x acre 
terre predicte iacent in cooununi per totum annum quum non seminantur" 
(ibid., 65 (13)). Thus it was sometimes customary to fallow only one-sixth of 
the arable. ' Cf . above, p. 46. 



belong to one or another " tenementum " — to Smith's tenement, 
for example, or to Bunting's. In the fifteenth century all the 
parcels of a holding could at times be assigned to the tenementa 
of which they had once formed portions. A tabulation of the acres 
of two holdings described in a sxu^ey of Bawdsey, Suffolk, dated 
1 6 Henry VI, will make this clear, and will show incidentally 
the insignificant part played by field divisions at that time.^ 

Sittmg tenant 

Thomas Mekflboigh 

John Godwyn 

Names of the 
Tenementa to which 
the Paroeb belonged 

Alex. Frebner 





Chapman . . . 





Godewyn . . . 


Cnmnok . . . 













In Dal 






• • 


Sxu^eys of East Anglian manors dating from the late fourteenth 
or from the fifteenth century are likely to be cast in a mould 
much like that of Bawdsey. They point, it is clear, to a still 
earlier time in which the tenementa were the principal agrarian 
units of the township, instead of merely serving, as they did in the 
fifteenth century, for the apportionment of rents and services. 

In surveys and rentals of the early fourteenth or, better still, 
of the thirteenth century, the tenementa assiune their earlier 
prominence. Sxirveys were not then drawn up, as at Bawdsey, 
imder the names of the contemporary tenants who had parcels 
in different tenementa, but they were arranged according to the 
tenementa themselves, in each of which the parcels were assigned 

^ Add. BiS. 25948. * With toft. * With cottage. 


to the tenants of the hour. Nearly always a tenementum was held 
by several men, who usually had parcels in other tenementa as well. 
In rentals of the time, too, brief and parsimonious of names as 
they are, one often finds reference to such items as the tenemen- 
tum of John Smith "et parcenarii sui" or "et partidpes sui." 

One of the most instructive of these earlier surveys is that of 
Martham, Norfolk, giving as it does a detailed account of field 
arrangements.^ Situated near the east coast, this manor of Nor- 
wich priory was surveyed in 1291, the fourth year of Prior Henry 
of Lakenham. The villein holdings are described with reference 
to the tenants who formerly held them, and are then assigned with 
minute specification to the contemporary tenants. A typical 
description of one such holding is as follows: — 

** Thomas Knight tenuit quondam xii acras terre de villenagio 
que vocatur i eriung* et reddit inde . . . [services and rents 
follow]. Sciendum est quod xii acre de villenagio vocantur unum 
Eriung. Et quOibet tenens unum Eriung fadet in omnibus 
sicud predictum est de tenemento Thome Knight. Et habentur 
in Martham xxii Eriung et iii acre de villenagio et omnes isti 
herdabunt totam terram Ville exceptis terris quesitis ad siligi- 
nem, avenam, et falihes. 

De quibus xii acris terre nunc sunt xii tenentes, viz., 
Martha Knight tenet iii acras et dimidiam de quibus 

dimidia acra iacet in campo de Martham qui vocatur 

Estfdd . . . 
Item dimidia acra iacet in eodem campo . . . 

'^ i roda et dimidia iacent in campo qui vocatur Mone- 
chyn . . . 

'^ dimidia acra iacet in Damiottoftes . . . 

" " acra " " Fendrovetoftes . . . 

" " Roda " " Morgrave . . . 

'^ i Roda et dimidia iacent in Tof to suo cum mesuagio . . . 

'^ dimidia Roda iacet in Monechyn . . . 

'^ XXX perticate iacent in eodem campo . . . 

** dimidia Roda iacet in Westfeld . . . 

'^ XXX perticate iacent in Monechyn . . . 

* Stowe MS. 936, ff. 37-115. 

' An eriung is the Anglo-Saxon tenn (or a ploughing or plough-land. 


Johanes Knyght tenet i acram cHniidiam et i Rodam terra 
iacentes in campo de Martham de quibus 
dimidia acra iacet in West! eld . . . 
Item dimidia Roda iacet in Fendrove . . . 
^ i Roda et dimidia iacent in Estfeld . . . 
" i « « « u u eodem campo . . . 

« i « iacet in Estfeld . . . 
Andreas Knyght tenet i acram et dimidiam et i Rodam terre 
iacentes in campo de Martham. De quibus 
dimidia acra iacet in Estfeld . . . 
Item i Roda iacet in Fendrovetof tes . . . 
'^ i '^ et dimidia iacent in Tof to suo cum mesuagio . . . 
** i ** ** " « « Monechyn . . . 

« i « iacet m Westf eld . . . 
Willielmus Anneys tenet i acram de qua 
dimidia acra iacet in Estfeld . . . 
Item dimidia acra iacet in Estfeld . . . 
Beatrix Knight tenet i acram terre de qua 
dimidia acra iacet in Estfeld . . . 
Item dimidia acra iacet in eodem campo . . . 
Robertus Ale3ai tenet i rodam iacentem in campo de Mar- 
tham qui vocatur Estfeld . . . 
Robertus Wuc tenet dimidiam acram In Estfeld . . . 
Hugo Balle « « «««... 

Robertus filius Roberti mercatoris tenet i acram terre de qua 
dimidia acra iacet in Westfeld . . . 
Item dimidia Roda iacet in eodem campo . . . 
Item i Roda et dimidia iacent in Fendrovetof tes . . . 
Willielmus Fo^ tenet i Rodam et dimidiam iacentes in 

Estfeld . . . 
Willielmus Godrich tenet i Rodam et dimidiam iacentes in 
Estfeld . . . 
Et omnes isti tenentes reddunt servida pro pleno Eriung sicut 
fecit Thomas Knight in ten^x>re suo." ^ 

Relative to a holder of " mulelond " the record runs,* '^ \l^liam 
Hereman tenuit quondam vi acras terre que vocantur Mulelcmd 

» Stowe MS, 036, f. 396. > Ibid., f. 70*. 



pro xvi d. de Redditu [obligations follow] . . . De quibiis nunc 
sunt ix'tenentes/' whose holdings are detailed as before. There 
seems to have been no unit of mulelond, since the holdings of 
the '' former tenants " contained a variable number of acres. 
Similarly, the socage land is referred to '' former tenants " in 
varying amounts, and these holdings too had been parcelled out 
among contemporary tenants. 

In the case of the villein eriimg of Thomas Knight it is easy 
to see that the existing situation had come about through a sub- 
division of the twelve-acre holding among heirs.^ Four tenants 
still bore the name of Knight and had the largest shares in the 
eriung, together retaining seven and three-fourths acres of it. 
They may have been three or four generations removed from the 
ancestor who gave his name to the holding. If so, Thomas 
Knight lived in the late twelfth or early thirteenth century. 

After this introduction to a thirteenth-centiuy Norfolk survey, 
we may proceed in our inquiry regarding field systems. If the 
foregoing references to the East and West fields of Martham 
suggest that a two-field system prevailed there at the end of 
the thirteenth century, its existence should be revealed in the 
distribution between these fields of the acres of the old units. 
Since at Martham the villein eriungs were the holdings most 
invariable in size, being always in theory twelve acres, they 
should be looked upon as the standard units and most likely to 
be evenly divided between fields. The condition of a few typical 
holdings, villein and other, is pictured in the following table : — 

Former Tenant 
C tenuit quondam ") 






West Field 




East Field 


Thomas Knight 

Thomas Knight 

Homfridus de Sco . . 
Httmfridiis de Sco .. 
Sywarefilius Galfridi 
Syware films Gallridi 

Stephanas Byl 

Nicholas Haral 



































































^ That socage and viUein holdings in East Anglia were ever subject to partible 
transmission seems to have escaped the notice of legal historians. 



From the table it is clear that the holding of no '' former tenant " 
was divided equally between the two fields, and this is true 
whether land of all tenures be considered or, as is more to the 
point, whether attention be confined to villein land. Even in the 
midlands free land was not always very evenly apportioned 
among fields. That the Norfolk villein eriung, however, the unit 
which correqx>nded with the evenly-divided midland virgate, 
should show an indifference to equal division between '' fields," 
and an inclination to lie largely in one of them, is significant. 
It implies that the East and West fields had no agrarian impor- 
tance at the time when the eriung took form. 

To know just how the parcels of an eriung lay in relation to 
one another would be information well worth having. Unfor- 
tunately, they are described in the Martham survey as they had 
come to appear in the hands of the niunerous tenants of 1291. 
How many there were and how related when the '^ former 
tenants " held them we are left to puzzle out from the incom- 
plete boundaries that are given. The description of one of the 
half-eriimgs which lay entirely in the West field is substantially 
as follows: — 

Wm Godhey tenuit quondam vi acras de vilenage pro dimidio 
Eriung. De quibus simt nimc xi tenentes, viz.: ^ 

Robert Koc, messuage and two tofts; 1} roods next Osbertus 
Harald on the north; i), Simon Koc N; 2, Walter de 
Scoutone W; 2, Thomas Mome W. 
Robert de Hyl ij, Alan de Syk W. 

Richard Mercator i , John dericus E; i, Thos. 

Mogge W; J, Robert Koc S. 
Simon Koc J, Roger Mercator S. 

Osbertus Harald 2 , Robert Koc S; 25 poles, Rob't 

Koc S. 
Beatrix Harald 25 poles, Osbertus Harald S. 

Simon Cok i , Robert Koc S. 

Walter de Scoutone 2}, Robert de Hill E. 

^ The neighbor on one side of eadi parcel is specified, as, for example, " iuxta 
Osbertus Harald ez parte aquilonari," but the parcel is not completely bounded. 
The abbreviated locations which follow should all be read in this way, the areas 
being in roods unless otherwise specified. 


Alan de Syk i^ Robert de Hill E. 

Alexander de Sco 2 , Robert Koc E. 

Robert filius Willielmi 
Webbester 10 poles, Robert Koc S. 

From this description it is pretty clear that many of these 
parcels lay not only in the same field but also side by side. Such 
were the parcels of Robert Koc and Osbertus Harald, of Robert 
Koc and Simon Cok, of Robert de Hyl and Alan de Syk. One 

begins to suspect that the six acres of William Godhey's half- 


eriung were after all not necessarily much separated one from 
another. Since the Martham descriptions are somewhat incon- 
clusive in this respect, we turn to another survey that furnishes 
what is perhaps our best evidence relative to the appearance of 
the original East Anglian villein tenementum. 

This sxu^ey, which is incomplete at beginning and end, relates 
to Wymondham, a township southwest from Norwich, and is 
written in a hand of the time of Henry VII.^ Although many 
descriptions are not detailed and others break off with the state- 
ment that the residue of the tenementum is in the hands of the 
lord, certain of them are, none the less, instructive. The tene- 
menta were by no means so subdivided in the fifteenth century 
as were those at Martham in the thirteenth. If this should lead 
one to suspect that no great period of time had elapsed since 
they were in the hands of their original tenant, the suspicion 
would be dispelled by the discovery that not one of the existing 
tenants of a tenementum bore its name as his surname, after 
thejoianner of the Knights who continued to share in Thomas 
Knight's eriung at Martham. The tenementum here, as there, 
probably goes back at least to the thirteenth century. More 
ancient than that it can scarcely have been, if we may judge from 
such names as Toly, Crisping, Caly, and Davys. 

The novel feature about these Wymondham tenementa is that 
they can in some instances be shown to have been nearly com- 
pact areas: — 

'' Tenementum Toly iuxta Grishaugh continet i mesuagium, 
xi acras, iv Rodas terre ... Unde 

1 Land. Rev., M. B. 206, fiF.i8S-2i5. 


Thomas Elnyght alias Kette tenet dictum mesuagium, ix 

acras, iii Rodas terre . . . iacentes iuxta Ckishaugh 
Ricardus Deynes tenet ii acras pasture indausas . . . abut- 
tantes . . . super Grishaugh versus austrum.'^ . . . ^ 
Here the entire tenement bordered up(m '' Grishaugh '' and can- 
not have been in more than two parcels at most. 

'' Tenementum Havercroft continet xiiii acras terre et bosd 
cum mesuagio vacante, Unde 
Thomas Caly tenet totimi tenementum iacens in partrike- 

feld . . . 
Edwardus Groote tenet inde ii acras terre in Cobaldisfeld." * 
Six-sevenths of this tenement lay in '^ partrikefeld/' a feature in 
which it resembled one of its neighbors. 

" Tenementum Ricardi Ale3ai continet i mesuagium edifica- 

turn et xxxii acras et dimidiam terre, Unde 

Galfridus Symond tenet dictum mesuagium ac xxvi acras et 

dunidiam terre, pasture, et subbosd m parkrykefeld . . . 

Johanis Caly tenet v acras terre ... in eodem campo . . . 

Thomas Cooke alias Blexter tenet uniun indusum infra 

mesuagium suum vocatum Benecroft . . . et continet 

i acram iii Rodas 

Item tenet imam Rodam dicti tenementi iuxta Benecroft." ' 
Practically all of this tenement lay in " partrikefeld." Finally a 
small holding is briefly dismissed as follows: — 

'' Tenementum Pering continens iiii acras terre in una peda 
restat in manu domini." ^ 

These four illustrations, which are particularly comprehensible 
since subdivision is slight and locations are traceable, make it 
certain that the early tenementum was at times a nearly com- 
pact area. Three of the above tenementa were rdatively large, 
and two of these lay almost entirely in a single '' field." Some 
non-adjacent parcels there may, of course, have been in this field, 
as descriptions of other tenementa imply was at times the case. 
The twenty-four acres of " Tenementum Cobalds," for example, all 
of which except two acres were held by Thomas Neker, lay " in 

1 Land Rev., M. B. 206, f. 208. * Ibid., f. 209. 

• Ibid., f. aio. « Ibid. 


diversis pedis in Cabaldisfeld, partrikfeld, et Domiham hallfeld/' 
In genehd, however, the details of this survey reinforce the im- 
pression got from the half-eriung of William Godhey at Martham. 
So far as we can ascertain the appearance of the original tene- 
mentimi in Norfolk, it seems to have been either a compact 
area or a group of not widely separated parcels. 

After examining above the appearance of a sixteenth-century 
Norfolk holding, we proceeded to inquire into the pasturage 
arrangements of that date and found them based upon so-called 
fold-courses.^ A division of each township was set off as the 
fold-course for a certain flock, and over the part of this which 
lay fallow in any year the flock was folded from February to 
October. Since the thirteenth-century tenementa were quite as 
regardless of a three-field disposition of their parcels as were the 
sixteenth-century holdings, we shall expect to find in early docu- 
ments pasturage arrangements not unlike those which later 

Useful information touching this point is given in a series of 
extents and custumals drawn up in 1278 and referring to the 
manors of the bishop of Ely, several of which were in Norfolk 
and Suffolk. Three items in particular relate to methods of 
tiUage. First of all, it appears that the tenant of a full villein 
holding was bound to carry manure for the lord and spread it 
upon the fields. Sometimes he carried for a half-day, some- 
times he drew five or six cartloads, and once, it is estimated, 
the labor occupied all the tenants for a week.' Evidently 
stabling of stock and manuring of fields were to some degree 

Such a device, however, was not the chief reliance for main- 
taining the fertility of the soil. As in the sixteenth century, this 

' Cf. above, p. 325 sq, 

' " Item iste cariabtt fimuxn domini per dimidiam diem semel in amio. ... Et 
quotiens opus fuerit sparget fimum a mane usque ad horam nonam ..." (Cott. 
MS., Gaud. C XI, f. 221, Derham, Norfolk). " Et debent cariare quindedm mun- 
cdlos compost! in quoscunque campos dominus voluerit pro uno opere. Unde duo 
moncdli vd tres fadent unam carectatam " (ibid., f. 259, Glemsford, Su£folk). 
*' Et iste et omnes pares sui cariabunt totum compostum domini per unam septi- 
mam ad festimi Sancti Michaelis. ... Et quod cariaverint debent spargere " 
(ibid., f. 2436, Bridgham, Norfolk). 


end was achieved by the folding of sheep and cattle upon arable 
fallow, a usage likewise revealed by the custumals. On many 
manors the tenant of villein land had to make wattles and carry 
them about. Often he furnished five with ten supports and moved 
them at least once a year.^ Such procedure, it may be said, 
refers merely to the demesne acres upon which the sheep of tenant 
and lord were folded together. In certain instances it is indeed 
specifically declared that the tenants' sheep shall lie '' in falda 
domini " throughout the year and the cattle from Pentecost to 
Michaelmas.* Had this always been the case, an enclosed demesne 
might accoimt for the requisitions, and we need assume no 
imusual field system. It is the third item of the extents that 
forces us to believe that the system was unique. 

This item specifies the payment of '' faldagium." '' Et dabit 
de faldagio ad Gulam Augusti per annum pro quolibet bove unum 
denarium. Pro qualibet vacca sterili unum denarium. Pro 
qualibet vacca cum vitulo duos denarios. Et pro qualibet iu- 
venca duorum annorum vel pro quolibet Bovecto eiusdem etatis 
unum obulum. Et pro quinque ovibus unum denarium. Et 
ideo nee oves sue nee averia sua iacere debent in falda domini." ' 
The payment of foldage according to this scale exempted the 
tenant's sheep and cattle from being folded with those of his 
lord over the demesne acres. Upon several manors, espedaUy 
in Suffolk, the tenant had no obligation either to fold sheep 
or to pay if he did not, the custom being that " oves sue non 
iacebunt in falda domini." ^ In the Ramsey cartulary the same 
privilege is recorded in slightly different phrase. That the 
villein '' habet suam faldam," or at least had it during a part of 

> " Et dabit decern palos et quinque deyas falde sine dbo. ... Et portabit 
quinque deyas falde domini et totidem palos semel in anno de uno campo in alium 
sine dbo . . ." (Cott. MS., Claud. C XI, f. 2436, Bridgham). 

' " Oves sue iacebunt in falda domini per totum annum preter oves matrices 
tempore agnilis. ... Et omnia alia averia sua iacebunt in falda domini a 
pentecoste usque ad festum Sancti Martini preter vaccas. . . . Et boves similiter 
iacebunt in falda domini inter pentecostem et festum omnitim sanctorum si non 
dederit cupam pro eis ut supradictum est " (ibid.). 

' Ibid., f. 22\h, Deriiam. 

« Ibid., f. 3596, Gkmsford; f. 265, " Herthirst "; f. 272, Rattlesden; f. 279^, 
Hitcbam; f. 288^, Barking; f. 2966, Wetberingsett; f. 303, Brandon. 


the year, was a custom there in the twelfth as well as in the 
thirteenth century.^ 

How, we may now ask, could a tenant's privilege of having 
his own fold be realized ? Under a system of enclosures there 
would have been no difficulty, but in the twelfth and thirteenth 
centuries East Anglian fields were largely open. Assmne now 
that the arable of a township was divided into two or three (four 
or six) compact divisions cultivated like those of the midlands. 
There it was the practice for sheep and cattle to roam over the 
entire field which lay fallow, the lord's acres (if in open field) 
and the tenants' acres sharing alike. If under such a system 
tenant or lord were to have had ** sua falda," he would have been 
obliged to hedge about his parcels with wattles, thereby sacrific- 
ing the prime advantage secured by the compact fallow field — 
the freedom from attending much to the wandering sheep and 
cattle. Since one aim of the midland system was to attain this 
convenience, we ^o not hear about the use of wattles in midland 
open fields or about any tenant having '' sua falda." 

Apply again the privilege of '' sua falda " to such a field sys- 
tem as was practiced in Norfolk in the sixteenth century. There 
the flock of each manor had in the township a definite area, apart 
from unploughed pastiire and waste, over which it had rights. 
Beyond this area it did not pass, and within it some parcels were 
fallow and some were sown each year. To protect the growing 
com wattles must have been necessary. Since the lord's flock had 
to be kept from the cultivated acres and folded upon the parcels 
of fallow until harvest time, the complexity would in no wise 
have been increased if the tenant were to employ the same pro- 
cedure relative to his acres. He, too, like his lord, might well 
have had some of his parcels under crops, and others fallow with 
his sheep folded upon them. The villein's privilege of having 
'' sua falda," recorded in the Ely cartulary, thus accords en- 
tirely with the Norfolk method of pasturing sheep, but not at 
all with that of the midlands. That it is noted in the twelfth- 
and thirteenth-century documents argues for the early existence 

1 CaHularium Monasterii de Rameseia (ed. W. H. Hart, Rolls Series, 3 vols., 
1884-93), >• 423, iii. 261, a6a, 264. 


of the East Anglian syst^n, and the case is strengthened by the 
divergence manifested in the customs of the manors of Ramsey 
abbey. No one of the long list of the midland possessions 
of that abbey possessed the privilege of independent foldage. 
Yet, as we have seen/ the two Norfolk manors had it, 
and the selection of them for such a favor suggests that they 
were in a condition to take advantage of it as the others were 

Pasturage arrangements adopted in East Anglia thus concur 
with the disposition of the parcels of a tenementimi relative to 
the fields, in pointing to a unique field system. Such descrip- 
tions of this system as have so far been utilized are, except for 
certain items in regard to foldage, not earlier than the late thir- 
teenth century. It remains to inquire whether it is possible to 
discover at what time the tenementa took form. 

If we were to judge from names alone, we should not assign 
them to a period earlier than the thirteenth cen(ury. It is easy 
to see that the land which, in the Martham survey of 1291, 
Thomas Knight is said to have held {quondam tenuU) would soon 
be known as Knight's tenementum, that the socage land would 
become Knight's free tenementimi, and the eriung Knight's vil- 
lein or bond tenementimi. Thomas Knight, himself, as we have 
seen, must have lived either in the early thirteenth century or 
at the end of the twelfth. The names which attached themselves 
to the tenementa at Wjonondham and at Baudsey often included 
surnames, as in the case of '' tenementum Ricardi Aleyn, or 
'' tenementum Alexandri Frebnere." Since villeins seldom bore 
surnames before the thirteenth century, the nomenclature of the 
surveys would seem to assign the tenementum to a period not 
much earlier than this. 

Even if the names of the tenementa did not much antedate 
1200, there is reason for thinking that the unit itself was old^, 
thou^ not always, to be sure, under the name '' tenemen- 
timi." This term became usual only in the fourteenth century, 
and Th(mias Knight's holding, thou^ referred to as a tenemen- 
tum, pr(Y>erly bore the infrequ^it Angk>-Saxon designation 

^ Cf . abovei pw 341. 


eriung.^ In the thirteenth century the units of villein tenure 
often assumed other names. '' Plena terra " was much in favor. 
The excellent series of Ely extents already quoted frequently 
employs this phrase and attaches to it, as to a unit, the eniunera- 
tion of villein services. Its area was uniform within the same 
manor. At Walpole it contained 30 acres; at Walton, 24; at 
Feltwell, 20; at Northwold, 48; at Terrington, 24.^ Sometimes 
no name at all was given to the full villein holding. The Ely 
manor of Emneth leaves unnamed its unit of 23 acres,' and the 
Ramsey cartulary finds no term to apply to holdings '' in Ian- 
cectagio." * 

At this point it will be of assistance to note the way in which 
Norfolk manors are treated by this cartulary in its two series of 
extents, one from the middle of the twelfth century, the other 
from the middle of the thirteenth.^ Ramsey had only two con- 
siderable manors in Norfolk — Brancaster and Ringstead — 
whereas in the midlands she had many. In the latter the villein 
holdings were always denominated virgates, and the enumeration 
of virgates is usually lengthy. At Ringstead, however, as we 
learn, '' Non sunt ibi hydae, vel virgatae terrae. Aestimantur, 
tamen, quod ibi sint quinque hydae terrae praeter dominicum." 
At Brancaster, '^ Ibidem sunt decem hydae. Nescitur, quot vir- 
gatae fadunt hydam, nee quot acrae fadunt virgatam." • Far- 
ther on we are told that three of the Brancaster hides were villein 
land. The extents which thus deny the existence of virgates 

^ The word occurs in an important passage in the Ramsey cartulary. Cf. 
below, p. 348. 

> Cott. MS., Claud. C XI, ff. 192, 199, 254, 258^, 182. 

> Ibid., f. 206. 

^ In this cartulary such is the usual designation for villein land. " Gilbertus 
Potekyn . . . recognovit viginti quatuor acras terrae, quas tenet de domino 
Abbate, esse lancectagium Abbatis, et quod debent onmes consuetudines serviles, 
salvo corpore suo " (court roll of 1239, Cartulary of Ramsey Ahbey, i. 424). 

* In the first series we find that ** Eadwinus de Depedale tenuit in diebus Regis 
Henrid, et ntmc tenet ..." (ibid., iii. 261); many extents of the second series 
are dated 1 250-1 252. Unlike the tenants in the second series, those in the earlier 
one usually have no surnames, and their names have a more archaic Saxon or 
Danish character than was usual a century later. 

• Ibid., i. 405, 413- 


and are somewhat vague about hides date from about 1240 to 

From the absence of the term virgate, howev^, it does not 
follow that units of villein holding were non-existent. On the 
contrary, the uniformity in size which characterized holdings '^ in 
lansectagio " both at Brancaster and at Ringstead points con- 
clusively to a recognition of such units. At Brancaster the three 
villein hides in the thirteenth-century extent were constituted as 
follows: 38 holdings of 12 acres each, 17 of 24 acres, two of 60 
acres, two of 30 acres, and four of 15 acres. In the extent of a 
century earlier we find 39 holdings of 12 acres each, one of 32 
acres, three of 16 acres, and two of 18 acres. Obviously at both 
periods the unit was 12 or 24 acres. At Ringstead the holdings 
were less symmetrical. In the thirteenth century there were 
13 holdings of 10 acres, two of 14, and single holdings of 28, 22, 
12, 8, and 7 acres. In the twelfth century there were ten eight- 
acre holdings, with one of 1 2 and one of 1 1 acres. The unit seems 
to have shifted from eight to ten acres and the total villdn 
land to have increased considerably. Mr. Hudson notes the 
existence of similar imnamed units of villein land in two extents 
which he publishes. In the manor of Banham in 1281, out of 
32 customary tenants who together held 244 acres of arable, 
seven had 7 acres each and five others had multiples of 7; in the 
manor of Bradcar in Shropham six customary tenants in 1298 
had 8 acres each and the seventh had 6 acres.* 

If Norfolk imits of villein tenure, even though unnamed, seem 
to have existed in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, it may 
appear fanciful to insist upon the absence of the term virgate in 
descriptions of them. They might well enough, it will be said, 
have been called virgates or half-virgates. By midland extent- 
makers, indeed, the terms were sometimes applied to the Nor- 

^ Neither extent b dated, but none in the aeries bean a date later than 1252. 
That of Ringstead is foUowed by a court roU of 1240, whidi seems to be later than 
the extent, for in it Stephanus Clericus recognizes that he holds hb land " in Ian- 
seagio," a dependence whidi has not been admitted in the extent {Cmtmimj §f 
Ramsey Abbey, i. 411). 

> William Hudson, " Three Manorial ExtenU of the Thirteenth Century," Nor> 
folk and Norwich ArchaeoL Soc, Norfolk Arckaechgy, xiv. 11, 8. 


folk unit as they were not by the resident Norfolk population. 
Accustomed as men of the midlands were to calling the full vil- 
lein holding a virgate, they not unnaturally persisted in the 
usage when they came to speak of East Anglia. There are 
several instances in the Ely cartulary.^ Usually it is made clear 
that the term is merely a substitute for the " plena terra," which 
turns into a virgate under our eyes. At Derham, as at several 
other places, the customary tenants who hold plenae terrae ('' de 
operariis plenas terras tenentibus ") are forthwith called virgate- 

That this use of " virgate " was, however, imported rather 
than native seems conclusive from the usage of two large groups 
of early documents, records which, drawn up within the county, 
furnish most of oiir information regarding early imits of land- 
holding. These are the feet of fines and the Domesday returns. 
In the fines of midland counties the virgate constantly recurs. 
In Norfolk and Suffolk, however, an examination of several 
hundred of the earliest fines reveals the term only in connection 
with one village, Walsoken, which, situated on the Cambridge- 
shire border in the fen country, was organized by virgates, like 
its midland neighbors.' The Domesday usage is the same: in 
connection with no East Anglian manor except Walsoken is the 
term virgate used to designate a villein holding.^ 

^ The Ramsey cartulary also once uses the term virgate in connection with 
the two Norfolk manors, but this happens in a brief summary of all the manors 
of the abbey in which the attribution of hides and virgates brooks no interruption. 
Since this summary is contemporary with the detailed thirteenth-century extents 
which explicitly declare that virgates are unknown in Brancaster and Ringstead, 
it is obvious that the virgates crept in through hasty cataloguing. " At Brancaster 
40 acres make a virgate, 4 virgates make a hide; at Ringstead 30 acres make a 
virgate, 4 virgates make a hide " (Cartulary of Ramsey Abbey, iii. 213). 

> Cott. MS., Claud. C XI, ff. 221 (Derham), 2336 (Shipham), 209 (Pdham), 
248 (Bridgham). 

s " De dimidia virgata terre et de tertia parte dimidie virgate terre " (Pedes 
Finium, Case 154, no. 180, 4 John). 

^ As printed by the Pipe Roll Society, two other fines mention virgates: one 
from Riston is concerned '* de duabus virgatis terrae et dimidia et tribus bovatis 
terrae (Feet of Fines, xvii. 22); the other, hom Upton, relates to a dispute between 
Stephanus de Ludington and Robert le Wile ** de i virgata terrae ** (ibid., 35). 
These fines are in all probability wrongly assigned by the Public Record Office 
cataloguer to Norfolk. They date from the first year of Richard's reign, when 


This peculiarity of nomenclature, this avoidance of the name 
appropriate to the midland unit, is thus at once early and per- 
sistent. It points to some fimdamental diflFerence between 
the East Anglian and the midland servile holding, a difference 
that can hardly have lain in the nature of the services exacted 
from the respective tenants; for, although East Anglian obliga- 
tions seem in general to have been lighter than those of the mid- 
lands, they were similar in kind. May not divergent field systems 
have been reflected in the usage ? Just as the Kentish imit 
avoided the midland name because the iugum was essentially 
imlike the virgate, may not the East Anglian eriimg, plena terra, 
or tenementum have done so for the same reason ? 

Besides emphasizing the early distinction between midland 
and East Anglian field systems, the above excursus into nomen- 
clature has disclosed something about the earliest appearance 
of the East Anglian unit. A villein holding, the area of which 
was uniform in a given township, is revealed in the Ely extents 
of the thirteenth century, where, too, it is nearly always named. 
It is discernible, though unnamed, in the Ramsey extents of the 
twelfth century. In the same century, however, the unit some- 
times assumed the name by which it was later designated at 
Martham; for in an extent of Stephen's time there is record of a 
holding of three " ariunges," our earliest specific reference to 
an East Anglian unit of villein tenure.^ For Domesday is non- 
committal. Frequently as it speaks of iuga or virgates in other 
coimties, in the description of Norfolk and Suffolk (except at 
Walsoken) it carefully avoids reference to any units except hides 
and acres. Since the acres of the survey are never parceUed 
out to the villeins on a manor, we cannot tell whether there 
existed in 1086 the imnamed imits which had taken form at 
Ringstead and Brancaster some seventy-five years later. 

the name of the county is often missing from the fine, as is the case in both these 
instances. There is another Riston in Yorkshire (a land of borates) and there 
are several other Uptons. The Upton in question was probably not far from 
Luddington, with which Stephen was connected. Of the three Luddingtons in 
England not one is in or near Norfolk. On the other hand, Luddington in Lincoln- 
shire is only some twenty miles distant from an Upton in the same county. 
^ Cartulary of Ramsey Abbeys iii. 285. 


At this point our evidence fails, leaving us in the twelfth cen- 
tury with an East Anglian unit of villein tenure which did not 
exactly resemble either the midland virgate or the Kentish iugmn. 
It was not, like the former, a group of small arable strips divided 
evenly between two or three fields; nor is it certain that it was 
always, like the latter, a compact area. At Wymondham a few 
tenementa were more or less compact, and at Martham several 
of the strips of an eriimg seem to have been not far distant from 
one another. Yet, as shown by the thirteenth-century survey 
of the latter township, the large number of strips in the eriimg 
and the probable disparateness of some of them make us hesitate 
to believe that as a rule the eriung assumed the form of an un- 
divided parcel of land. Probably it was sometimes compact, 
sometimes a group of not widely-scattered parcels. At times it 
resembled the Kentish iugmn; at other times it was such a hold- 
ing as a Kentish tenant would have had after the subdivision of 
iuga had begim, many of his parcels still lying in the ancestral 
iugum, while others, which had been acquired, were dispersed 
throughout neighboring iuga. 

In what way can such an aspect of the East Anglian eriung 
or tenementum be explained ? Was this imit affiliated more 
with the virgate of the midland system or with the iugmn of 
the Kentish system ? Before answering this question, we must 
give attention to the intimate connection which existed between 
the location of the parcels of the tenementimi and the pasturage 
arrangements prevalent in East Anglia. The early custumals, 
we have noticed, usually record whether a tenant had or had not 
his own fold (suafalda), whether he might or might not pasture 
his sheep upon his own fallow acres. It may be that the atten- 
tion which they give to this matter points to a greater develop- 
ment of sheep-raising in East Anglia than elsewhere in England; 
it is more likely, however, that it signifies a superiority in agri- 
culture. Arable fallow was naturally better fertilized when sheep 
were folded regularly upon it than when the township herd and 
flock wandered aimlessly over it every second or third year, as 
they did in the midlands. 


But to comprehend East Anglian pastiirage arrangements 
one has to consider another factor than agricultural method, 
namely, the manor. Throughout the midlands, as Maitland 
pointed out, manor and township tended to coincide.^ Even if 
there chanced to be two or more manors in a township, they all 
adapted themselves to the two- or three-field syst«n precisely 
as did a single comprehensive manor: demesne horses, cattle, 
and sheep roamed over the waste and over the fallow field along 
with the beasts of the tenants. In East Anglia, however, the 
existence of several manors within a township was the rule rather 
than the exception, a rule, indeed, which tended to be almost 
universal.* Furthermore, as we have seen, the manors of a 
township insisted upon individuality in pasturage arrangements. 
Except during the autumn and winter seasons, the flock of sheep 
which each maintained was not allowed to range over the un- 
sown lands with the flocks belonging to the other manors of the 
township; it was restricted to its own fold-course, where it en- 
joyed exclusive privileges. Such particularism, antagonistic as 
it was to action by the whole township, proved irreconcilable 
with the practice of the two- and three-field system of tillage.' 

It thus appears that pasturage arrangements in East Anglia, 
so far as they had to do with fold-courses, were bound up with 
the co-existence of two or more manors within a township. If 
we may assimie that fold-courses were as ancient as the manors 
to which they appertained, it becomes possible to form conjec- 
tures about the time of their origin. The petty manors of East 
Anglia are everywhere apparent in Domesday Book.* In that 
record, too, Norfolk and Sxiffolk boast of many " commended " 
(i. e. slightly attached) freemen, to whom may naturally be 

^ Domesday Bock and Beyond f pp. 22, 129. 

* Ibid., p. 23. Miss Davenport notes that in 1086 in the hundred of Depwade, 
Norfolk, every township with possibly one exception was held of more than one 
lord (Norfolk Ma$ufr, p. 7). 

* Whether this particularism in pastiirage had any connection with the deter- 
mination of what constituted a manor in East Anglia cannot be here discussed, 
but in view of the vexed state of this latter question the consideration of such a 
possibility is not unworthy of attention. 

* Of the 659 Domesday manors of Suffolk, 294 are rated at less than one carucate 
and only 70 at five or more carucates. Cf . Victoria History of Suffolk, i. 369. 


referred the other feature peculiar to East Anglian pasturage 
arrangements — the privilege, namely, of independent foldage. 
From the character of the Domesday record, therefore, it seems 
possible to infer that the fold-courses of petty manors and the 
particularist foldage of certain tenants may have been existent 
prior to 1086. 

We may now return to the question of the origin and afiUiation 
of the eriung or tenementmn. The foregoing digression relative 
to the pasturage arrangements of East Anglia has served to sug- 
gest a connection between the agrarian system there developed 
and the small manors and niunerous freemen of pre-Domesday 
times. May there not also have been a connection between 
these same manors and the East Anglian unit of villein tenure ? 
The hypothesis deserves consideration, despite the difficulties 
which it at once encounters. For two views are cxirrent regard- 
ing the general relationship to the manor of the Anglo-Saxon 
unit of villein teniire. In the opinion of some writers this unit 
antedated the manor and represented the original holding of one 
of the households of a free village community; when the manor 
was imposed upon this commimity, the holdings sxiffered change 
of status, not change of form.^ The contrary opinion is that the 
persistent uniformity in the size of these holdings within a town- 
ship points to a landlord's activity.* Without discussing this 
question in its wider bearings, or accepting the latter opinion 
in the form in which it was stated by Seebohm, we may here 
note that a fusion of the two views offers a tenable hypothesis 
relative to the origin of the East Anglian tenementum. 

This unit, as has been explained, often in the thirteenth cen- 
tury assumed the appearance which a Kentish holding took on 
at some time after the disintegration of the iuga had set in. 
Assmne, now, that there were once in East Anglia units like the 
Kentish iuga. Assume that they were divided among heirs and 
that some of the new tenants acquired parcels in other iuga, as 
they did in Kent. Assume, finally, that while the new holdings 
were in this condition a manorial system was imposed upon them. 

^ Maitland, Domesday Book and Beyond, pp. 337-338. 
* Seebohm, English ViUage Community, pp. 176-178, 419. 


It would be natural for the new lords to desire uniformity of size 
in the units from which rents and services would henceforth be 
due. What more natural, then, than that they should discard 
the antiquated and perhaps forgotten iuga and assess their 
tenants on the basis of actual holdings ? To equalize the areas 
of these holdings so as to make them full units or half-units 
it would only be necessary to shift a few [parcels here and there. 
Some holdings may have been found compact and may have 
been left so. The outcome of such a readjustment would be 
tenementa and eriimgs like those met with in the thirteenth 
century. Conjectural as this hypothesis is, it explains more 
simply than any other the aspect and characteristics of the East 
Anglian unit of villein tenure. If it be accepted, the tenemen- 
tum becomes a derivative of the Kentish iugum, the result of 
an arrest in its disintegration and the making permanent for a 
time of the stage of decline then reached. 

There remains the question whether any imusual event in 
East Anglian history may have contributed to the break-up of 
an ancient iugum and perhaps have had something to do with 
the formation of the manorial system which, in accordance with 
the foregoing hypothesis, created the new units and the new 
pasturage arrangements. For answer there must be further 
resort to conjecture. Domesday Book, as has been noted, shows 
us that the petty manors and numerous freeholds of East Anglia 
were in existence earlier than 1086. That these features are in 
no wise to be attributed to the Norman Conquest is ap[)arent 
from the assumption of the survey that the conditions which it 
describes go back, in general at least, to the time of the Confessor. 
Before this date the most pronounced social revolution which 
Anglo-Saxon East Anglia experienced was the Danish invasion. 
That the Danes came in sufficient niunbers to make permanent 
settlements k proved by the place-names of the region. To the 
Danes also is probably to be attributed the larger free element in 
the population which in 1086 still persisted here, as elsewhere in 
the Danelaw. 

In a well-settled area, such as East Anglia undoubtedly was 
before the coming of the Danes, the intrusion of a considerable 


nxunber of new settlers, who were also conquerors, must have 
wrought agrarian changes. Foremost among the problems which 
would naturally arise was that of providing the new-comers with 
land. One readily surmises that the humbler among the in- 
vaders became small freeholders, and that the more powerful 
came into control of many acres along with the tenants already 
settled thereupon. From the latter appropriation arose the petty 
manor. Upon the new lords — Danes, or perhaps at times Anglo- 
Saxons who had profited by disturbed conditions — fell the 
task of rating the holdings of their new tenants with an eye to 
uniformity of size within each manor. To them, in short, was 
due the creation of East Anglian tenementa and eriungs. 

One naturally asks why incoming Danes brought into existence 
in East Anglia a imit different in aspect from the virgate and 
bovate found elsewhere within the Danelaw. The reply is 
that the midland system of Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire 
was much the same system as prevailed in Scandinavian 
countries.^ Danes and Anglo-Saxons agreed in their method 
of tilling township fields. Hence when the Danes settled in 
northeastern England there was no need of a readjustment, 
either on the part of freemen or on the part of conquerors who 
may have developed into manorial lords. No difference, there- 
fore, would in the future be perceptible between the field system 
of the northern Danelaw and that of Wessex. In East Anglia, 
however, the Danes probably found a field system divergent, 
then as later, from that of the midlands. To this they adapted 
themselves, being without doubt the minority of the population. 
It was, like their own, a system of open fields, and at the time 
of their arrival had become one of scattered parcels. In tem- 
perament and customs they were not hostile to the process of 
subdivision and dispersion, and they may even have contributed 
to the disintegration which after the re-rating once more set in 
throughout East Anglia. But how far the responsibility for this 
later movement rests with them is imcertain and does not parti- 
cularly affect the hypothesis sketched above. According to that 
hypothesis, to state it once more in taking leave of the subject, 

^ Meitzen, Sieddung und AgrarweseHf i. 22. 


the East Anglian field syst^n was in origin similar to the Kentish, 
but was so modified before the Norman Conquest throu^ the 
settlement of the Danes and the formation of the manorial system 
that by the thirteenth century it had developed pasturage 
arrangements and a unit of villein tenure peculiar to itself. 


The Lower Thames Basin 

The four counties which lie between East Anglia, Kent, and the 
circuit of the midland system, together forming what may be 
called the basin of the lower Thames east of the Chiltems, are 
Sxirrey, Middlesex, Hertfordshire, and Essex. To the north this 
basin is drained by the small rivers Colne, Lea, Roding, and by 
the coastal streams of Essex; to the south by the Wey and the 
Mole. For the most part it is shaiply bounded by high hills. 
The Surrey downs stretch from Croyden southwest to Aldershot, 
while high-lying heath and the forest of Windsor extend north- 
ward to the Thames. On the northwest and north the Chiltem 
hilb and foothills continue the boundary to the comer of Essex, 
whence it is no longer upland but the river Stour flowing down 
to the sea. Although the basin of the lower Thames is not strictly 
conterminous with the four coimties mentioned, it is nearly so. 
The exclusion of a strip of Surrey on the south and of the edge 
of Hertfordshire on the north is compensated for by the inclusion 
of southern Buckinghamshire and a patch of Bedfordshire. The 
region is practically that which must have been occupied by the 
East Saxons and Middle Saxons in the sixth century. 

In its field systems this area differed somewhat from the Kent- 
ish, East Anglian, and midland districts, but borrowed character- 
istics from each. The unit of villein tenure was in general not 
the iugum or the tenementimi (although there are interesting 
exceptions), but the virgate. This midland feature, however, was 
such in name rather than in reality. The virgates here did not 
consist, as they did in the midlands, of parcels equaUy distributed 
between two or three fields; instead their parcels lay irregularly 
throughout several furlongs, shots, fields, or crofts. In this ir- 
regularity they approximated to fifteenth-century Kentish hold- 
ings and East Anglian tenementa. Although the region was more 



or less homogeneous in these req)ects, it will be best to present 
the evidence county by county and then attempt to make certain 


Arable open field in Surrey persbted until the period of parlia- 
mentary enclosure, the' reporters to the Board of Agriculture in 
1794 estimating the total at some 12,000 acres. The largest 
amount in a single township was the 800 acres at Epsom, while 
the townships which had more than 350 acres apiece niunbered 
only about a dozen.* Although the open-field arable thus con- 
stituted no large fraction of a township, parliamentary awards 
often refer as well to considerable stretches of waste.* At Ewell, 
for instance. Slater, following the act of 1801, reports that 1200 
acres were enclosed.' The award and map, enroUed in 1803, 
show the enclosing of down on the south and of common on the 
north (Chessington common) amounting to some 350 acres, but 
the arable allotted was not more than 600 acres.* The map fails, 
as enclosure maps so often do, to indicate the old field names or 
arrangements. Even were these given, we should be disinclined 
to accept them as representative of an early field system, since 
the arable constituted so small a fraction of the township's area. 
The reporters to the Board make statements which seem to 
ally Surrey tillage with that of the midlands. In a general way 

^ W. James and J. Malcolm, General View of tht AgricuUure of the County of 
Sttrrey (London, 1 794) , pp. 45-50. The reporters' list is as follows : from Carshalton 
to Sutton and Cheam, 3000 acres; Ewell, 600-700; Epsom, 800; Ashted, 700; Fet- 
cham, 150; Bookham, 450; East and West Clandon, 300; Merve and Horsehil, 
510; Egham, 300; Hythefields, 250; Thorp, 350; Mortlake, Putney, Wandsworth, 
and Battersea, 1340; Runn3rmead, 160; Yard Mead and Long Mead, 100; Wey- 
bridge and Walton meadows, 350; Send Common Broad Meadow, 365; Scotches 
Common Broad Meadow in Send parish, 50; Send Little Mead, 70. 

* The award and map for Croydon are among the few that have been printed: 
J. C. Anderson, Plan and Award of the Commissioners appointed to Enclose the 
Commons of Croydon, Croydon, 1889. 

* English Peasantry f p. 301. 

* The map reveals the northern half of the township entirely enclosed, while its 
open field lay compactly in the southern half, stretdiing toward the downs. Where 
arable and downs met on the east, another enclosed area of some 200 to 300 acres 
was marked off as North Loo Farm. The award is in the Public Record Office. 


they remark upon the similarity between the open fields of the 
county and those of other counties, describe the three-course ro- 
tation, and even mention the tripartite division.^ The conclu- 
sion of their account, however, shows that they were not at the 
moment describing what they saw. Mankind has at length, they 
say, become '' more thoughtful and more enlightened," and has 
" changed somewhat of the mode " of cultivation. The descrip- 
tion is intended to be historical and general, the reporters assimi- 
ing that the three-field system, which in their day they still saw 
farther up the Thames; had once prevailed in Surrey. This 
natural assiunption we should likewise make were the earlier 
evidence in accord with it. Since, however, the testimony of 
surveys and terriers conflicts with the conjectural but seemingly 
straightforward accoimt of the reporters, it will have to be given 
in some detail. 

Somewhat volimiinous is the careful transcription of nimierous 
Surrey terriers drawn up in 1-2 Edward VI and probably re- 
lating to monastic lands.' Regarding many townships we learn of 
little more than the existence of common fields, the specification 
being that so many acres lay " in commimi campo " or " in com- 
munibus campis." • In the longer terriers no holding is evenly 
divided between two or three comprehensive fields, as would 
surely have happened several times in the description of an equal 

^ ''According to the common field husbandry of this county [which is similar 
to that of other counties] . . . very little or no variation could take place; and 
therefore wheat, barley, and oats have been the uniform routine, and their chief 
aim has been to get the wheat crop round, be the ground rich or poor, shallow or 
deep. The custom of each manor in the arable lands for the most part was to lay 
them in three common fields; and in so doing they were enabled to pursue a course 
of wheat, barley or oats, and the third remamed in fallow. . . . But as mankind 
became more thoughtful and more enlightened, finding the bad effects of this sort 
of husbandry, and being precluded the advantage of winter crops; seeing also the 
absurdity of fallowing, they wisely made an agreement among themselves (wherever 
they could possibly effect it) and changed somewhat of the mode by the introduc- 
tion of the artificial grasses '' {General View, etc., p. 38). 

' Land Rev., M. B. 190; Treas. of Receipt, M. B. 168, 169. 

* Of this nature are terriers relating to West Cheam, West Molesey, East Mole- 
sey, Esher, Waddington (in Coulsdon), Maiden, Witley, Claygate, Pirbright, Lam- 
beth, Ashstead, Eashing, Shalford (Land Rev., M. B. 190, ff. 107, 386, 48, 406 and 
117, 686, 170, 1306, 1366, 138, 156, 189, 2256, 226). 


number of midland holdings. Parcels are, to be sure, sometimes 
located in fields, but this is done in the most incidental manner. 
Several typical terriers in which '' fields " are distinguished from 
furlongs make dear this characteristic.^ 

^ At Kingston a leasehold b described as a toft and three roods, " cum vi acris 
terre arabilis, viz., 

Hi acre kcent in quodam campo vocato le Combef dd in divenis paitdlis 

et i alia aoa iacet in quodam campo vocato le litlef dd in bcokefnrlong 

et i alia aam iaoet in eodem campo apod le Chapditjie 

et lexta acra iacet in eodem campo in tribui partibas " (Land Rev., M. B. 190, f. 163). 

At Sutton there was a frediold " tenementum cum ziii acris terre arabilis eidem 

tenemento pertinentibus iacentibus in oommuni aaaapo in diversis lods, vis., 
iiii acre inaimnl iacent subtus le haDe 
et iii acre terre inaimnl iacent in le Rumhemede . . . 

et iii acre (etl dimidia innmul iacent in aostraU campo de Sutton apod Suttooaplott 
et U aoc (et] dimidia iacent apod le Fowledowc '* (ibid., f. 6ah). 

At Ewell the 6} acres which are i4)purtenant to a tenement and garden ** iacent 
in diversis particulis in campo vocato Southefeld, unde 

due acre iacent ex parte ocddentali vie duoentia de Ewdl vemis ^nitffil 

et alia acra iaoet ex parte orientali vie ducentis de Ewdl versus Reigate iuxta Chillis- 

alia acra iaoet in Eatmarkefurlong inter terram . . . et terram . . . 
alia acra iacet in Sootheloog inter terram . . . et terram . . . 
dimidia acra iaoet apod Balardespit 
sexta acra iacet inter viam regiam ducentem de Ewdl versus Rejrgate . . . et aliam 

viam ducentem versus Walton " (ibid., f. 91). 

At Walton-upon-Thames a leasehc^d of 2 Edward VI consisted of 15) acres of 
pastiure and woodland and 34) acres of arable. Two-thirds of the arable lay in 
closes, but 10} acres were ** in diversis parcellis in lakefield." A freehold in the 
same township consisted of a tenement at Payneshill, 7 acres in crests, 5} acres of 
meadow, and " in communi campo vocato Lakefdd 

iiii acre et dimidia apud Hokebiuahe 


i alia acra iuxta le Lake 

iii acre et dimidia apod Guldford comer . . . 

Ualie acre ibidem 

iii rode abuttantes super StonyhiH " (ibid., f. 73^)- 

At Worplesdon a freehold comprised a messuage with i| acres adjoining, and 
** ii acras terre ibidem iacentes in communi campo vocato le Create Wortbe . . . 
ac dimidiam acram terre in dicto communi campo . . . 

ac unam acram et dimidhm in communi campo ikmlem vocato le Litleworth " (ibid., 
t. 170b). 

Another freehold in Worplesdon had " xi acras terre arabQis divisim iacentes in 

libM communibus can^>is ibidem vocatis le Greateworth et le litleworth." In the 

first lay 10} acres in five parcels, in the second one half-acre pared. 

At Weybridge three fields rectur in two cop}iiolds. In the first we hear of a 

messuage with 5} ** acras terre arabilis divisim iacentes in communibus campis, unde 

iiii acre iacent in Wodhawf dd 
et i acra dimidia iacent in le Townef elde 
ac etiam iiii acre terre iacent in Pircrof te 
iiii acre terre et pasture in Townegaston 
acU acre et dimidia prati " (ibid., f. sa). 


Only from Kingston have we a terrier which gives such a de- 
scription of acres as would imply a two- or three-field system; and 
even here nothing but chance and the smallness of the holding 
are responsible, since other Kingston terriers mention other fields. 
At Sutton a South field, it appears, figured beside three equally 
important nondescripts. At Walton all the acres lay in a single 
field, Lake field, and at Ewell all were similarly in South field. 
Worplesdon had, besides its Great Worth, where were most of 
the acres, its '' Litleworth ", contributing to each holding a par- 
cel or two. Even if, by accepting the doubtful Pyrcrof t, we posit 
three fields in the Weybridge terriers, we find the acres appor- 
tioned with no symmetry, Townefeld having fewest in one holding 
and most in the other. At West Clandon, where again there were 
three fields. East field received 4^ acres in contrast with 3 acres 
assigned to Tonge field, if acres to West field, and 1} acres to 
miscellaneous areas. 

It may be objected that, since all the holdings just mentioned 
were leasehold and freehold, or, if copyhold, were not estimated 
in virgates, irregularity in field arrangements might naturally be 
eiq>ected to appear. The objection would be valid were it pos- 
sible to discover in Surrey any instances of synmietrical arrange- 
ment against which, as against a backgroimd, the foregoing 

Here only the first two parcels seem to lie in the common field, but the other copy- 

hdd suggests that Pircroft is to some extent common. Appurtenant to a tenement 

called Hudnetts one finds a small dose and 

'* ii acias terre arabiUt iaoentet in Wodhawfdd 
iii wens et dimidiAm terre arabilis iacentet in cunpo vocato Pyrcroft 
iiii wens terre arabiliB divisini lacentet in Townefeld " (ibid., f. 35ft). 

At West Clandon a freehold tenement has appurtenant three gardens, a croft, 

and " xi acre terre arabilb quarum 

iii acre iaoent in quodam campo vocato TooffeCeld 

dimidia aoa in Northefaili 

dimidia aoa in SoathehiU 

una roda terre in Weatfekl 

una roda in Baaaettehawe apud HordunsUle 

due acre et dimidia in Eatf eld toper cultunun vocatam Northef ore 

dimidia acni in eodem campo vocato Eatfdd super cultunun vocatam loogrowe 

dimidia acra in eodem campo super culturam vocatam Shuldmere 

dimidia acra in eodem super culturam vocatam Sbdfegate 

dimidia acra in eodem campo super culturam vocatam Pyrrewe 

dimidia acra in Westldd super culturam vocatam Litledesn 

dimidia acra in eodem campo vocato Weatf eld super cultunun vocatam threyerden 

dimidia acra in eodem campo super cultunun vocatam Westlongland ** Qbid., f. 146). 



terriers stand out as exceptions. Not only do such instances 
fail to occur in this series of surveys, but four detailed descrip- 
tions of virgates confirm the evidence just given. 

Dating from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, these de- 
scriptions are as satisfactory illustrations of the appearance of 
Surrey holdings as can be desired.^ Each virgate was ^purte- 

^ At Epsom the virgate wfaidi was held with the tenement called " Synotes " by 

copy of X Henry VIII comprised, along with two paicds whidi may have been 

added: — 

" i cnrfUm tern voatUm marten 
et iiii acias terre in ChoUey 
uoam acram terre apud Whiteweshill 
ii acras terre apud Wertdeynskiu^ 
et Hi acras terre apod Hadbrought 
et iiii acras terre in cooununi campo 
unam acram iaccntem apud Choichefurlonc 
et i acram eC dimidtam iacentes in Gorybroke 
et i acram (et] dimidiam iacentes in Middlefuckmc 
et dimidiam acram apud WeriadenknoU nuper Johanit Hdkiwct 

etii acras terre iacentes in Myadenpertinentes ad nuperoflkinmCoqainari" (Land Rct., 
M. B. 190, f. 61). 

At Battersey in i Edward VI a tenement had appurtenant " dimidiam virgatam 
terre et prati, unde 

una acra terre iacet apud Tyethboumehawe . . . 

due acre contigue iacent in Lonfstrete . . . 

et alia acra terre iacet in Crocbe . . . 

una acra iacet in Stoojrland . . . 

dimidia acra terre iacet in le Grottoo ... 

ii acre terre iacent separatim in medmeney . . . 

una roda prati iacet in Sladonditch ** (ibid . f. 16). 

In 31 Henry VI the abbot of Chertsey granted to William Frydey at Chobham 

** unum mesuagium, unum airtilagium cum dimidia virgata terre vocata Eyr^ 

. . . in vilknagio . . . unde 

due acre terre iacent in campo vocato Burifdd inter terram . . . et terram . . . 

et doe acre iacent in campo vocato Beanloode inter tcnam . . . et tcnam . . . 

et iiii acre iacent in campo vocato Gretestene 

et due acre iacent in campo vocato lytfistene [two acre-parcels) 

et una peda tcne mntinrm ii acras iacet apod Kstirnh n rn d e ioita fampm vocatea 

Et unum pratum . . . et unum pratom ... [no areasi ** (Eack. K. IL. M. B. 15, L 

In 33 Henry VI the abbot of the same monastery conveyed at Chertsey ''unum 
cotagium et unum curtilagium cum dimidia virgata terre cum suis pertincntibas 
vocata proutfotes . . . unde 

predktum cotagmm cum curliacio iacet ibidem is vioo vocato Eststrete 

et tres acre pariter iacent in campo vocato EstfeUe is caltnim vocata Sy1|ym . . . 

et dimidia acra terre iacet ibidem iuxta Coppedebcy* . . . 

ct due acre terre pariter iacent in campo vocato Mylletalie ... 

et una acra iacet in campo vocato yonder Estvortbe . . . 

et dimidia acta terre iacet m campo vocato beder Est wut tbe . . . 

et una acra prati iacet in prato vocato Estmede . . . 

ft una aba acta prati iacet ibidem ** (ibid., f. saift). 


nant to a messuage, and hence maintained a household; two were 
situated in river townships, two in the center of the county; all 
were in open field, and in all the parcels were largely arable. Yet 
in none was there any grouping of the strips by fields. At Ep- 
som a " common field " appears once, but without further speci- 
fication and on a par with hills and furlongs. At Battersey no 
fields or even furlongs are mentioned, while the field names are 
curious. At Chobham we get trace of four " fields," Burifeld, 
Beanlonde, Gretestene, and Lytilstene; but one of them, Grete- 
stene, with an adjacent parcel contained half of the holding. At 
Chertsey the arable was divided among three fields, Estfeld, 
Myllershe, and Estworth, but in the proportion 3^, 2, and 
i}. No one of the terriers therefore pictures a three-field 

In two grants made by the abbot of Chertsey at East Clandon 
in 1 1 Henry IV we are able not only to follow the description of 
a virgate but to compare with it the accoimt of a fourth-virgate, 
or " ferlingata." ^ The virgate was large, containing 13} acres 

* Exch. K. R., M. B. 25, f. 284. The respective descriptions are as follows: — 

" Unum mesuagium et imam virgatam terre vocatam Crouchen conttnentem Triginta 
quatuor acraa et dimidkni terre que William atte Crouche quondam . . . tenuit in 
villenagio in Eitden d one in diversis lods, unde 

mesuagium et curtilagium iaoent per viam Regiam ducentem usque Shure versus Rippke 

una crof ta et quatuor acre et dimidia terre vocate Gausland iacent . . . 

due crofte vocate puricroftes cootinentes tres acras terre iacent . . . 

due crof te vocate northecroftes cootinentes sex acras terre iacent . . . 

una roda terre vocata Shameiondesbuttc iacet iuzta mramagium predict! tenementi . . 

una acra terre iacet in Penstede . . . 

dimidia acra terre iacet in Penstede predicta . . . 

una alia dimidia acra terre iacet in eadem Penstede . . . 

due acre terre vocate Swythecrcrftes iacent . . . inter . . . halvyncroft . . . 

alia dimidia acra terre iacet in le Hahiyngcrof t predicto . . . 

tres rode terre iacent in halewyngcroft predicto . . . 

alia dimidia acra terre iacet in le Overshorebrude . . . 

una acra terre iacet in k Overshorebrude . . . 

Qiu dimidia acra terre iacet in le Overshorebrude inter terram communem vocatam le 
Doune . . . 

una alia dimidia acra terre iacet b le Nethereshorebrude . . . 

alia dimidia acra terre iacet in quodam forlango vocato horeslowe . . . 

alia dimidia acra terre iacet apud Lytdhegge . . . 

una acra terre vocata Cowsboteacre iacet . . . 

tres rode terre iacent apud Loogedenesende . . . 

una aam terre iacet apud Coppedthom . . . 

dimidia acra terre iacet sub le C<Hn>^^on^ • • 

una roda terre vocata le housteddl iacet inter terram vocatam Stonycroft . . . 

una alia roda terre iacet in Scoldmere . . . 

una alia roda terre vocata Rokcyotlmele . . . 


in crofts and 21 acres of common land lying in thirty-one parcels. 
A few of the parcels were in the same field areas — three in Pen- 
stede, three in Overshorebrude, two in Halvyngcrof t — but most 
were di^>arate and without inclination to group themselves by 
fields. The ferling, which was about one-fourth as large as the 
virgate, appears relatively less enclosed. Noteworthy about its 
parcels was their location in field divisions that are not once 
named in the description of the virgate. The symmetry and 
uniformity which might be eiq)ected under three-field arrange- 
ments were thus entirely wanting. 

Longest of the Chertsey terriers, four of which have just been 
quoted, are those relative to Egham, which lies on the Thames 
just east of Windsor Park. In them two virgates and three 
half-virgates granted by the abbot in 2 Richard m are described 
in fuU.^ The length and breadth of the strips are often given, 
e. g., " i peda terre in Northcrofte . . . longitudine xxvi perti- 
cas, latitudine in utraque parte iii perticas, continens Himidiam 
acram, dimidiam rodam, viii perticas." More comprehensible 
than a transcript of the holdings is a tabulation showing the 
parcels arranged by fields and permitting a comparison of 
the virgates. Each holding includes a messuage, a curtilage, 

dimidk aom terre beet apud Thistdf ocd . . . 

una parva butta terre vocata Pilchebutt' iacet . . . 

dimidia acra terre iacet supra Bradvor . . . 

una acra terre iacet in k Stooycroft . . . 

dimidia acra terre iacet super bradvor . 

tres rode terre iacent super Wowefor . . . 

dimidia acra t^re iacet super k Westhulne . . . 

una acra terre iacet super k Westhufaie . . . 

una parva peda ttfrecootinent'Isiclunamacramet dimidiam vocatamleSturtes iacet. . . 

dimidia acra t^re iacet super le Northf or . . . 

tres rode t^re iacent apud Godhume. ..." 

" Unum toftum et unam ferlingatam terre ... in viUenagio . . . cootinentem MspUm 
acras terre et unam rodam unde 
I^edictum Toftum coatinet unam acram dimidiam terre . . . 
una alia acra terre iacet in Rogeradene . . . 
una alia acra terre iacet in le Shorebrude . . . 
una alia acra terre iacet super k Westeshulne . . . 
una alia acra t^re iacet apud le Merk . . . 
una roda terre iacet apud le Merk prcdictum . . . 
dimidia acra terre iacet super k Inkmd . . . 
alia dimidia acra terre iacet super k Midddfor . . . 
una alia acra terre iacet super kmgworthe." 

» Exch. K. R., M. B. 25, f. 238^. 



and a group of strips the areas of which in acres are as fol- 
lows: — 


ViisaU GflberU 

et Johanis 




de Bakeham 

Dimidia VirnU 

WiOiemi at Wdl 

de Inclefdd 





i, \, \, \ 


E)rmersh . . . . ' 

I peda prati 

I peda terre 




ii ii 

I, i 2j(en.^ 

Southcroft ..' 

w da 

r « • « • 


.... li 

Northcroft . . }, | 


Burgcroft ... .... 


I J 

Hillarshe i peda 


4l 4i 




i} apud le 

I peda iuxta 

. • 

\ Medilgrove 
} Langf ur 
\ Shortfer 

• • • • 

.... 2 "pre- 

i}, } imsped- 

l fied 

I, 2 (terra et 

Croftaindusaj'*:'*'*''*' | 4i,3i 
L J gravetta J 

4} (terra et 

i| (terra et 

► i}, I - 

i, I, 61, 
f (pas- 


Pratum and J 

' I pratum, 
L 3 more j 


• • « • 


• • • • 


Every holding, it thus appears, comprised several enclosures, 
but the largest part of each still consisted of parcels intermixed 
with those of other men. Although the township lies near the 
Thames and the name Ermersh may suggest marsh land, most 
of the unenclosed parcels seem to have been arable. Those of the 
several holdings were very imevenly distributed among the field 
divisions. The half-virgates had large parcels in Hillarshe, but 
not so the virgates; one holding had eight parcels in Southcroft, 
another had five in Northcroft, the others not more than a parcel 


or two apiece in these areas; Burgcroft appears but twice; the 
first holding had ten parcels in Ermersh, the others only two each. 
The location of many parcels in " crofts " suggests a subdivision 
of old enclosures rather than normal open field. Considered 
together, therefore, the Egham terriers not only fail to evince 
any trace of a three-field system, but even seem to be prohibitive 
of ^uch an arrangement. 

Since complete surveys are always more convincing than ter- 
riers, any comprehensive evidence of this sort available from 
Surrey is important. Somewhat late, to be sure, is the descrip- 
tion of Banstead, which in 1680 pictures little of the township un- 
enclosed.^ Five of the tenants were then possessed of a few acres 
vaguely assigned to " the conmion field," the area of which proves 
to have been only about 24 acres. The fields may to some ex- 
tent have been reduced in size, since we find mention of " Upper, 
Middle, and Lower Common field Closes"; but it is not clear that 
they had ever been large. 

Another survey, earlier by three-quarters of a century, re- 
cords all the holdings at Byfleet and Bisley.* Byfleet, a town- 
ship adjacent to the river Wey, was then entirely enclosed. At 
Bisley there is note of a few small common fields, the combined 
area of which was about 100 acres and nearly all of which fell 
within a dozen copyholds.* Most acres were in Neltrow and 
Widcroft, a few being in Burcroft. Since in nearly all of the 
copyholds the enclosed area exceeded in amoimt that which was 
open, from an agricultural point of view it mattered little that 

' H. C. M. Lambert, History of Banstead in Surrey (Oxford, 1912), pp. 194-216. 

• Land Rev., M. B. 203, ff. 80-133. 

' Their areas in acres may be tabulated as follows: — 

CustomAzy Unspeci- Coaunoa 

TeaanU EocloMd Ndtrow NorthiU Wkkroft Southash Burcroft fied Meadow 

Robt Cobbett. IB.. | 7 i t) 

Edm. Boosey 

Martha Ltiiher, 2 m. ii| j a| 2 i a| 

Jo. Symoas. m. . . . 2i| 2 2 i 

Robt. Cobbett ... ?! S ^l 1 i 

Wm. Farnham. m. . io| acres in these three 

Jo. Hooe, IB Ill 2 2 2 2 

Heniy Lee, m. . . . i6i 3 5 2 2 1 

Hciuy Lee, Bu 2 s & > >l 

Joseph Hooe, m. ..8 4 2 j 1 1 i 
Hcoiy Ratter, oeu . 14) 10 j 


there was no symmetrical distribution of acres among the field 
divisions. The conmion fields of Bisley were at this time prob- 
ably similar to those of many Surrey townships when the formal 
enclosure of these took place in the eighteenth or nineteenth 
century. Nor had the Bisley fields changed much during the 
two centuries preceding the survey, if we may judge from the 
mention of three of them in an indenture of 6 Henry IV.* At 
Bisley, as at Egham and East Clandon, irregular field arrange- 
ments thus antedated the sixteenth century. 

Not all sixteenth-century common fields in Surrey were so 
meagre as those of Banstead or Bisley. A field-book written in 
a hand of about 1600 describes furlong by furlong all the parcels 
of open field in "Keyo and West Sheen alias Richmond," the 
total being some 650 acres. By tabulating and summarizing 
the information there given, we get what is perhaps our best view 
of relatively extensive open fields in the coimty at the period in 
question. All holdings larger than five acres are noted in a 
schedule in Appendix VI. 

The smaller holdings, which averaged about i) acres and con- 
sbted of from one to three parcels, nmnbered nearly thirty. Each 
of them lay in one division of the township's arable, a characteris- 
tic not indicative of a midland field system. Nor for the larger 
holdings was there a general arrangement by fields, the furlongs 
instead having a substantial importance. After being told about 
Kew field and Kew heath, we come upon the " lower field,'' in 
which there were at least two shots, and possibly more. There- 
after we are guided upward and southward only by furlongs, since 
" East field " was no more than a shot. To discover any simple 
field system governing the distribution of acres is difficult. Kew 
field was of interest to only three tenants, one of whom had 
nothing in the Richmond furlongs, and a second but little. If we 
disregard Kew field and try to arrange the remaining furlongs in 

> Ezch. K. R., M. B. 25, f. 264. Of the five acres of arable from which tithes 
were owed by a certain John Willere, 

" una acn kcet in Campo vocato NorthuU 
et una acra et dimidia pariter iacent in Campo vocato WydecroCt 
et una acra iacet in Campo vocato Eltrowe 
et una acra et dimidia pariter iacent in Campo vocato Westeworth." 



three groups, the following combination is probably the most 
feasible: — 

" The ihott butting 

Sir Henry Portman 

Will. Portman, Esq 

John Burd, iure uxoris 

Stephen Pierce, Gent 

Vincan Jones, Gent 

— Payne, Gent, iure uxoris 

Robt. Clarke, Esq 

Geo. Charley, Gent 

Mary Crome, vidua 

Lady Wright 

Barth. Smith, iure uxoris . 

Lott Peerce 

The Church land 

Thos. Smith 

The Lower- 

&eld furloDft 


upoD the park 

west " And Church 


Upper Dunstable 

to Maybosh ihot 











































In the case of three tenants, Jones, Pa3me, and Clarke, this group- 
ing would make a three-field system not altogether impossible, 
but elsewhere the misfit is complete. Any other arrangement of 
furlongs, whether by three or four fields, is equally futile. The 
irregularity of the Richmond field system at the end of the six- 
teenth century seems pretty dearly demonstrated. 

From a survey of 1522, earlier by three-quarters of a c^itury 
than that of Bisley or than the Richmond field-book, we have the 
items which relate to the manor of Merstham.' Although the hid- 
ings here were tending to accumulate in the hands of a few men, 
they are still differentiated in the survey. Usually at least half of 
each lay in open field. When, however, we bq^in to examine the 
location of the constituent acres we at once encounter difficulties. 
For there were no comprehensive fields. The parcels of the larger 
holdings lay in as many as twenty field areas, often called furlongs, 
the amounts assigned to each being usually from one-half acre to 
three acres; * and no groiq>ing of these furlongs to form any kind 

^ The extracts were copied in 1710 from a " Rcntall oC the Lofddiipps oC Meis- 
tham and Charlewood/' and have been printed in Swney ArckaetUgk^ 

1907, XX. 94-114. 

* The foUowing holding, though not ol the longest, b typical: — 


of system can be other than highly conjectural and inconclusive. 
It is evident that at Merstham no emphasb was put upon the 
midland combination of furlongs into three large fields; the fur- 
longs possessed rather an independence and flexibility which 
admitted of any arrangement desired. 

If we turn now to our earliest sources of information regarding 
Surrey fields, the fines and charters of the thirteenth century, we 
shall get plenty of evidence that open fields were usual, but none 
pointing to the existence of a regular field system. Various fines 
dating from 10 Richard I to 19 Henry III locate the small parcels 
of the transferred lands in such way as to leave no doubt that 
open-field strips were in question.^ 

In some terriers, furthermore, the location of strips is instruc- 
tive. At Walworth a lease of 17 Edward II enumerates twenty 
parcels containing 20} acres of arable which lay in EUenebussh, 
Lolipette, Longewygheth, Fowes, and Southcroft.* In four in- 
stances, indeed, it is possible to discover in a measure how the par- 
cels which constituted a virgate were disposed. At Mitcham a 
half virgate and six acres are defined as '' illam medietatem que 
ubique iacet in campb de Inlond, Bery, Battesworth, Burforlang, 
Spirihey, Westbroc, versus umbram . . ." ' At Carshalton ten 
acres taken from a virgate comprised two acres in Hodicumbe and 

" WQliam Hnhnan for a tenement, garden, and croft on the backwie called BaAleyes containing 
by estioution a acres and a half e . . . 

for half an acre in North Deane in the common Feild . . . 

And for one yard in Swynk Furlong . . . 

And halfe an acre in North Worth . . . 

And for one yard in Towneman Meade . . . 

And 3 yards in Tottbiiry Bosh shott . . . 

And for a acres in a peece in Crooked Land . . . 

And for one acre in Heyf orlong . . . 

And halfe an acre there . . . 

And for halfe an acre there in Ashtedd . . . 

And for another halfe acre there . . . 

And halfe an acre in Tottbury Hill Furkmg . . . 

And for halfe an acre fai Tottbury Bush Shott . . . 

and for halfe an acre in Little Bosefeild Shott . . . 

and for mne acre in the upper shott in Quarrepittden . . . 

And for one acre in Great Oate Croft ..." (ibid., 106). 

^ Such open-field strips are attributable to Camberwell, ** Bechom," ** Maudon/' 
Kingston, and Thorp: Ped. Fin., 235-1-44 (10 Rich. I); 335-2-3 (i John); 325- 
5-44 (14 John); 225-4-13 (3 Hen. Ill); 225-4-21 (3 Hen. III). 

* MSS. of the Dean and Chapter of Christchurch, Canterbury, Lib. B, f. 356. 

* Ped. Fin., 225-9-30, 19 Henry HI. 


three in Hegecrof t, while the others were situated at Stikelehelde, 
Twiseledewde, Westhehe, Cwemherst, and Netherathe.* At 
Polestede, in a transfer of two virgates, one was described as 
'' aliam virgatam . . . eiusdem Phillippi, scilicet, 

duas acras terre et dimidiam que iacent versus austrum sub- 

tus viam que est inter Polestede et losne 
et duas acras in Westden et in Coster. . .una 
V acras dimidiam in bromhell versus boreal' 
imam acram et iii acras in Estden et in Melherse 
tertiam partem imius acre et i acram prati et tertiam partem 
prati sub tus polested et capitale mesuagium . . ." * 
Such ciuious and varied descriptions of the parcels of a virgate 
indicate that in the thirteenth as well as in the seventeenth cen- 
tury the open fields of Surrey between the downs and the Thames 
were not divided into two or three or four large fields among 
which the acres of a holding were equally distributed. The mid- 
land system was not in vogue, and the reminiscent history of 
the reporters to the Board of Agricidture is not sustained by 
contemporary evidence. The fields were munerous, were curi- 
ously named, sometimes being called furlongs, and the distri- 
bution of the acres of a holding among them was irregular. 
What the affiliations of this imsymmetrical system were can 
best be discussed after a study of neighboring counties has been 

Before we leave Surrey it should be noted that on the Kentish 
border a virgate in the early docxunents does not resemble one 
which lay in the plain to the north and west of the downs. In 
the high rolling coimtry between Croydon and Reigate a virgate 
often seems to have been a more or less compact parcel of land, 
with no scattering of the acres. At Banstead the 24 acres which 
were granted from a virgate lay " in Snithescroft." ' At Sander- 
stead the fourth part of a virgate was " immn campmn terre . . . 
et quinque acre in hadfeld quas Ricardus filius Swein essarta- 
vit." * At Gatton the half of two virgates may perhaps have 
been slightly more disparate, comprising as it did 

* Ped. Fin., 225-3-4, 5 John. * Ibid., 225-1-41, 10 Ridi. I. 

• Ibid., 225-2-8, 1 John. * Ibid., 225-2-15, i John. 


" septem acras terre in Neweland 
et duas acras terre et dimidiam ad Horscrof t 
et duas acras terre et dimidiam ad Kinerod 
et dimidiam acram ad Wudappeltre 

et medietatem curtilagii ... in eadem villa quod vocatur 
Chapmanhag." ^ 

The existence of compact virgates in this region need not im- 
ply that there were no common fields. A Coulsdon rental of 
II Henry VII specifies several crofts, " cum aliis terris in com- 
munibus campis de Wentworth, Churchden, prestyslond.'' * 
Other documents furnish a clue to the nature of these fields, and 
any one who has seen the bald chalk downs of the neighborhood 
can surmise what was their character. In a lease of 9 Henry VI 
there is mention of " viginti acre terre pariter iacentes in campo 
vocato Wenteworthe "; * and in a Coulsdon charter of 18 Ed- 
ward II 48i acres of arable are described as lying " in communi 
campo in loco qui vocatur Toldene iuxta ferthyngdoime." * The 
common fields were, it seems, nothing less than the slopes of the 
downs, in which parcels were likely to be large; and the very fre- 
quency with which the fields were named " dene " points to the 
same conclusion. Fields of such a character in eastern Surrey 
help to explain the tendency of virgates in that region to lie in a 
few parcels, or even in a single parcel. The virgates did, indeed, 
begin to take on somewhat the aspect of Kentish iuga, with which, 
as we shall see, they were probably allied. 


What has to the modem student become the typical three-field 
township of England, is, with no inconsiderable irony, located in 
a coimty not characterized by the three-field system. Had See- 
bohm gone ten miles to the south or to the east he would have 
foimd no field arrangements like those of Hitchin. For it hap- 
pens that the long northwestern boimdary of the coimty falls 
within the midland area and just beyond the hills that boimd 

^ AAA*Vll*»ll>i* «»*«^«* %»M^\A |««k7V ». 

* Ped. Fin., 225-5-25, 8 John. 
« Exch. K. R., M. B. 25, f. 330. 
» Ibid., f. 347. 

— — — -- — . ~~'i — — - — .#» " %f%f — 
• Ibid., f. 347. * Ibid., f. 336. 


the valley of the lower Thames. In consequence there was in 
Hertfordshire a fringe of townships, of which Hitchin was one, 
as typically three-field or six-field as anything to the north. 

In this region it was that the reporter to the Board of Agricul- 
ture in 1794 noted the persistence of (q>en fields. '^ The land [of 
the county] " he says, " is generally inclosed, though there are 
many small common fields . . . which are cultivated nearly in 
the same way as inclosed lands; the larger conunon fields lie 
toward Cambridgeshire." Almost all of Ashwell he found un- 
enclosed.^ This township, along with Hinxworth and one or two 
other places, b a projection of Hertfordshire between Bedfordshire 
and Cambridgeshire, belonging topographically with the latter 
counties and like Hitchin falling within the midland area.* Adja- 
cent to Ashwell is Kelshall, a plan of which, made at the end of 
the eighteenth century, apparently for purposes of enclosure, 
shows six large open fields stretching northward from the village 
to the heath, which lay on the Cambridgeshire border.' Not far 
away, on the northern slope of the hills, lay the manor of Lan- 
nock in the parish of Weston. Here, too, an early seventeenth- 
century description of the demesne divides it among three fields 
in the midland manner.^ 

1 D. Walker, General View of the AgricuUure of the County of Hertfordshire 
(London, 1794), pp. 48, S^. 

* A Hinxworth terrier in an early seventeenth-century hand, describing the 
lands " which Bray holds to Calldecott farme," enumerates them as follows (Add. 

MS.3357S,ff.4^48): — 

In the WindmiU Field or Clay fidd 3} acres in 6 paicds 

In WaUer field 11 ' ' at ' 

In Bcnnfll field i ' « 1 « 

In Saltmore field xa| " " xq " 

In Blackland field a6| ■ ' sa • 

This enumeration does not indicate clearly the character of the field system. The 
township may originally have had two fields, one of which is here represented by 
Blackland field; or the terrier may be incomplete, since it begins very abruptly; 
or, once more, the farm which Bray held may have had enclosed lands which per« 
mitted the irregular distribution of parcels throughout the fields. 

* Add. MS. 37055. The fields were Baldock Way, Crouch Hill, Stump Cross, 
Sibbem Hill, East Little, and Beacon. 

* After specifying the sdtus manerii of 17 acres and a woodland of 35 acres, the 
account continues relative to the arable: *' Que quidem terra arabilis dividitur in 
tribus Sejrsonibus [the culture being designated]. . . . In illo campo quod iacet iuxta 


Another projection of Hertfordshire, comprising the townships 
of Long Marston, Puttenham, Wilston, and Tring, runs into the 
midland area between Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire. The 
open fields of all these townships except Puttenham were en- 
closed by an award of 1799.^ According to the enclosure map, 
Long Marston had three fields (Langdale, MiU, and Lolymead) ; 
Wilston had three, somewhat subdivided, to be sure, but still 
dearly discernible (Near East and Far East, Bennell, Lince Hill 
with Blackmoor and Moor Hill); and Tring had seven, appar- 
ently grouped as Dunsley and ParkhiU, Hazely and Gamnill, 
Hawkwell and Hitchin and Gold. 

Turning now from the three-field edge of Hertfordshire to the 
body of the county, what field system do we find ? Evidently 
one which b irregular in much the same way as that of Surrey. 
In so far as the holdings of a township lay in open field, the 
fields were many and there was no synmietry in the distribution 
of parcels among them. Indeed, at a fairly early date certain 
townships contained no open field whatever. In 28 Charles II 
a survey was made of the manor of Hemel Hempstead with its 
members, Flanden, Eastbrook, Boxhamstead and Bovingdon, a 
large area in the Chiltem region of the west.* All the parcels are 
expressly stated to have been closes, and there is no trace of open 
field. In an earlier survey of 1607 relating to Berkhamstead 
and its neighbor Northchurch most of the parcels appear as 
closes, though a half-dozen common fields are mentioned. Of 
these the two most often named probably lay in Northchurch, 
an indication that even at this early date Berkhamstead was al- 
most, if not quite, enclosed.' 

If we pass northeastward along the southern slope of the Hert- 
fordshire hills, we come successively to Little Ayott, Kings 
Walden, Weston, Clothall, and Ardeley. The appearance of 

viam que ducit de Sheneffeld versus Wylie et abuttat super boscum de Langenoke 
. . . [are] ccxxi acre iii Rode et vi acre de novo adquisite. In Seysona de Gravele- 
fdd . . . diii" et V acre et Roda et X pertkatas. In Seysona de Duxwellefeld . . . 
cdx acre preter iii perticatas " (Add. MS. 33575, ff. 57-58). 

> K. B. Plea Ro., 45 Geo. Ill, Mich. 

* Land Rev., M. B. 216, ff. 39-70. 

» Ibid., M. B. 365, ff. 1-25. 


each of these townships is described in sixteenth- or eariy seven- 
teenth-century documents, all of them implying the existence 
of open fields but never the existence of a two- or three-field S3rs- 
tem. At times the amoimt of open field was very slight. In 
1636 " a coppie of the Survey of Little Ayott " (probably relat- 
ing to demesne) took accoimt of 83 acres of woodland, 64 acres of 
park land, and twenty-three closes containing together 329 acres, 
while in Church field there were but 19 acres in twelve parcels 
and in Nellwyn field but 24 acres in nineteen parcels. Only one- 
ninth of the tillable lands here still lay open.^ 

From Kings Walden the field detail contained in three ter- 
riers is far more explicit. The latest, dated 1654, rehearses the 
'^ particulers of the landes liing in the Common Feildes belonging 
to the Berry and Parsonage Farme taken out of former notes 
with some additions";' another of 1568 relates to all the 
"copyehold londes of John Camfyld holden of the manor of 
Kings Waldon "; ' the third is a valuation, in an Elizabethan 
hand, of the possessions of Sir William Burgh, knight.^ The 
Burgh estate comprised a manor house, 266 acres of enclosed 
land, 80 acres of woodland, and '' clxx Acres of Arable lande 
lieing in sondrie peeces in divers fieldes of Kinges Walden, 
Powles Walden, and Polletts." These open-field acres (except 
the ten in Powles Walden and Polletts), together with the parcels 
of the two other terriers, are shown in the table on the next page. 
No uniformity is perceptible in these terriers, except in the two 
larger holdings, which show a preponderance of acres in Mill 
field. Since in both holdings the acres in question comprised 
more than one-third of the total but less than one-half, Mill 
field can hardly have been one of three fields. Especially would 
its slight representation in Camfyld's holding tell against such 
an hypothesis, while the location of one-third of this copyhold in 
Howcroft once more precludes any simple three-field arrange- 

On the top of the Hertfordshire hills is situated the parish of 
Weston, the northern slope of which, constituting Lannock 

» Add. MS. S3S7S, f. 23. • Ibid., f. 242. 

• Ibid., f. 141. * Ibid., f. 4. 



Location of Commoa-fiekl 

Beny and Parsonage 

Acres of Sir William 

John Camfyld's Burgh't Estate. 

170 Acres 

In Hadden field 21 acres in 2 parceb 

'^ Hadden dell ahott 

" Mylle field 66 acres in 17 parceb 


" Royden field 30 

*^ Legates field 9} 

*^ Hanger field 2f 

* Fogman field 

* Fogman downe iij 

*^ Floxmoore field 

« Wnd mfll field loj 

« Wooden 4) 

* Breadcroft 2i 

* Landmead downe 6 

** How croft 

* Astyge 

** Woodden valye 

« Woodden hyU 

* Sandy shote 







i i i } 

i i i 


i if i i I 

2oi acres 





















i, i, 9i 

I, I 


i I, i 1, I 

Two crofts of 3 and 2 acres 

manor, we have seen disposed in three fields. Weston itself, 
however, appears to have departed from this arrangement. A 
mid-seventeenth-century terrier of two tenements of " Mr. Faire- 
clough his land in Weston " names eleven closes of 74 acres at 
the beginning of the list, seven more of 140 acres at the end, with 
the following items between: — 

Frontley Feild: ^*^ ^<»*^ ^"'^^ 

A hedge Row o 2 o' 

In the upper shott i o o 

a peice next weevers mead 13 i 17 

peace tree pightell i 2 33 

another dose more there 3 3 36 

Woodgate shott 23 3 z 

Ye comer [5 parceb] 13-2-34 

Linoe Feild: 

Most part of whitehill furlong 13 o i ^ 

in the second furlonge 3 o 14 

a peice more there S 2 of 73-0-15 

another great peice more there 44 o o 

(7 other pieces] 7 2 o 

Fitks grove shott, the upper shott, neitherdown shott . . ^ ^ 

and walkeme shott [« 102} acres] with 4 other pieces / 


» Add. MS. 33S7Si ^- 3i7- 


Deq>ite the bracketing, this arrangement scarcely beq>eaks three 
fields. Even if " ye comer " be added to Frontley Feild, the sum 
of the acres is not half so great as the area of the last group. 
Two other items from Weston seem decisive. In a rental of 1 1 
Charles II there is mention inter alia of 

'' Dimidium imius virgate terre vocate Bondsland in a feild 
called Lince Feild [and] 
Unum aliud dimidium virgate knowne by the name of Da- 
viesland iacentis in severall parcells liing in lince Fdlde 
aforesaid." * 

Since half-virgates in three-field townships do not usually lie 
entirely in one field, we must conclude that the township o^ 
Weston marks the transition from the midland arpa, as repre- 
sented by Lannock manor, te the region of irregular fields. 

Adjacent to Weston are Clothall and Ardeley, the latter lying 
farther down on the southern slope. A terrier of the manors of 
Kingswodebury and Mundens, situated in these two parishes, is 
dated 5 Edward VI.* The demesne, which lay very largely in 
Clothall, consisted of 452 acres of ** londs, medowez, Fedyngs, 
wods, and pasture," together with 

'' erable londes in Sheldon felde in the 

parishe of Clothall 28 acres in 8 parcels 

erable acres of lond in the Westfield 
of Clothall" 38I acres in 13 parcels. 

The manors comprised also '' londs in the occupation of Thomas 
hawez," which with the exception of some 20 acres lay in the par- 
ish of Ardeley. The Ardeley acres were located indifferently in 
fields or furlongs, the terms being apparently interchangeable.' 
At Clothall and Ardeley, as in the other townships along the south- 

> Add. MS. 33S7S» '• 3"5' 

• Add. MS. 33582, flf. 4-9. 

* Netherwykdane furlong, i, i, i, ), } acres; Snaylesdel, }; Lodley fdde, }, i, 
it i» ^f sit it ^^^ pightell; Brokefeld (or furlong), ), 3, one little pightell; Docke- 
lond, f , i; Scalfi^long, }, i; Depewellshott, i, i, }; Holmshot furtong, ), ), i, }, }; 
Ncfwellfeld, }; Hoggyswelfurlong, }, i, }; Asthill (furlong or field), i, }, i, }, i 
(meadow); Banbery fdd, li, i, i}; Kybwellfeld, i, f, i; Ryforade, i (a headland); 
Scotesden furlong, i; Coleapdfte, [?]. 


em slope of the Hertfordshire hills, there is thus in the terriers 
no trace of a three-field grouping. 

Leaving the hilly townships of the north and passing to the 
more level region of the southeast, we come upon the large manor 
of Ware, about which much information is given in a sixteenth- 
century book of manorial jottings. If from this collection of court 
rolls, rentals, and incomplete surve3rs we select three terriers of 
typical copyholds,^ we shall find that the three had a common 
interest in Wykfeld only. The first had two acres there, the last 
four; but the other parcels of their open field lay disparate. 
Most suggestive of the terriers is the second, in which all the acres 
excq>t two were in Breckelfeld, a proximity reminiscent of the 
East Anglian system. 

^ ** Robertus Forde . . . tenet sibi et heredibus suis . . . per copiam datam 

. . . Anno regni Regis Henrid Vm^* zzzvi^ 

anam croftura tern vocatum GaUocroft mnfmnit . . . <|ttiiiqiie acnt 

unam acram tern iaoentein in Warefeld inter le borne et lalmooKroCt 

et duaa acraa tern in Abelyingstok 

et duas acraa terre iaoentet in Wsrkfeld tabtos wolkechcn bedfe 

et unain acram terre iacentem apud waringehowgate 

et oaam acram terre inrhwam apud le gravd pytta." 

** Christofenis wright tenet per copiam curie datam ziii*^ die Jimii anno secundo 

Regis Edwardi vi** 

unum tenementum vocatum HiUt iaccaa et existens in Baldockatrete . . . 

mam acram terre in Brckelfekl iuzta le ChypHt 

mam aliam acram terre in eodem can^w iuzta DunaeUcroHe 

duas acraa terre in eodem campo naper Thome PeerK . . . 

tres acraa terre in eodem campo abuttantes super le Peertre 

et duas acras terre in can^w sive dauiufa iuzta wyken lane." 

The third terrier details the surrender, in 20 Henry Vm, into the hands of the 
lady of the manor, of 

" unum tenementum cum gardino adiacenti apud werengo hiH, 
decem et octo acras terre arabilis particulariter in diversis lods iacentes, unde 
quinque Acre iacent in duobus pedis in West f eild 
et quatuor acre terre in wykfeld subtus parcum domine 

et duo crolta insimul iacent et indusa tenemento pndicto Anneiata oootinentia 
norem acras terre insimul 
cum tribus acris prati in paroo de ware predicto 
ac tres acras terre in pippeswdl fidd ipter terram . . . et terram ... 
et unam acram prati in paike meade quondam J<4unis Ostwyke . . . 
unum pimtum oontinens tres acraa terre vocatum Sondlese. . . . 
Ac unam pedam terre cootinentem quinque acras . . . iacentem apud Goodyerefeld 

inter Ripariam . . . et terram domine ... 
et quinque acras terre vocatas LokdioUne . .- . iacentes inter Ripariam et Biponam . . . 
Necnon decem acras terre subtus parcum domine in DsrmerBhott 
ac etiam tres acrsa terre iacentes in wykfeikl vocatas Ladymere " (Add. MS. 27976, 
ff. 67*. 896. 47). 


Still farther in the direction of London is Cheshunt, a parish of 
the Lea valley adjacent to Waltham abbey. Relative to two 
manors lying mainly in this parish but extending beyond it up 
and down the river, we have surveys of 19 James I.^ In the 
manor of Periers and Beaumond, reaching into Wormley and 
Tunford on the north, the larger holdings were leasehdds, and 
for the most part consbted of parcels of pasture and meadow 
with a few acres in the common meadows. In the other manors 
of Theobalds, Crosbrook, and Collins, lying towards Waltham, 
there was still much open field. Here, too, the larger holdings 
were held by lease, the copyholders having only messuages with 
at best bits of land attached. The most important leaseholds 
are summarized in Appendix VI in a schedule which accounts for 
all the Cheshunt open field. No fewer than 250 arable acres of 
the msmor were common and unenclosed, while the irregularity of 
field arrangements is perceptible at a glance. As at Edmonton, 
which was just down the valley of the Lea in Middlesex, a tenant 
usually had parcels in two or three fields; * but the two or three 
were seldom the same. No one of them had the prominence 
which '' le Hyde " had at Edmonton, though Holbrooke was 
favored. Such surveys well illustrate the field situation which 
was likely to be found just to the north of London at the end of 
the sixteenth century. 

If we turn from sixteenth- and seventeenth-century evidence 
to that of the thirteenth smd fourteenth centuries, we shall find 
the same line of demarcation in the county. One of the town- 
ships north of the hills in the Bedfordshire plain is Hexton, 
where an early charter of Walter de la Ponde bestowed 23 acres 
of land upon St. Albans abbey. After describing dght parcels 
which contained 12 acres, the charter gathers under the rubric 
** Et in alio campo " the remaining twelve or thirteen parcels.' 
At the time, therefore, Hexton was in two fields, as were several 
townshq>s in this part of Bedfordshire.^ Another Hertfordshire 

1 Land Rev., M. B. 316, ff. 16-3S. 
< Cf. bdow, p. 381, and Appendix VI. 

* Cott BCS., Otho D m, f. 1526. At the end of the diarter the manuscript is 

* Cf. below, Appendix n. 


village situated in the midland plain appears to have had three 
fields. In 1297 the demesne lands at Norton were so grouped 
for a three-course husbandry that the totals by " seasons " 
amounted to 64, 68, and 66 acres; ^ and the assignment of this 
demesne to such areas as Westfeld, Neitherwestfeld, and Stoke- 
feld renders it likely that open field is referred to. 

At Kensworth, however, which lies on the crest of the hills, the 
existence of a similar situation at an early time is less credible. 
A lease from there, dated 1152, provides, to be sure, that on its 
expiration the lessee " reddit eis [canonids Sancti Pauli] totum 
bladum Ixx acrarum de hiemali blado seminatorum et similiter 
totum bladum Ixx acrarum de vemali blado seminatorum et 
quatuor xx acras warectetas." * There is, however, nothing to 
show that these acres, which were probably demesne,' lay in 
three common fields. Indeed, certain later evidence tells against 
the existence of such fields at Kensworth; for terriers of several 
freeholds and copyholds of the time of Henry VII, one of 
which describes a half-virgate, show no three-field grouping of 

^ "Ad seysinam unam pertinent in campo qui vocatur Neitherwestfekl zxiv 

acre terre arabilis et in bokefeld continentur zl acre 
ad flecundam seysinam pertinent in stokefdd xxxvii acre, in Cellenelond 

zv acre, in Sondishot xiv acre, in hepesaoft ii acre 
ad tertiam seysinam pertinent in Westfeld xxiii acre, xxxiv acre, i acra, et 

viii acre " (MSS. of the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's, Lib. I, f. 150). 

* n)id., Lib. L, W. D. 4, f. 35- 

' At so early a date only demesne acres would be leased. 

* Of the six larger copyholds three are summarized in the following table (from 
MSS. of St. Paul's, Press A, Box 62). The fourth description shows that the 
freeholds were not dissimilar to the copyholds: — 

" Thomas Albright senior tenet unum mesuagium et xii acras unam rodam terre 
ac libertatem bosci pertinentem ad dimidiam virgatam terre, 

' iii ftcru, scflket, iacentcs eidem mesuagio hixU Baase Croft 
iii acTM abutUntet b dictum Wodgrove 
iii acras iacentcs super StoUcyng hiDe 
i acrmm iacentem apud loogemere 
iii rodas iacentes super le lynches super StokynghiH 
i acram eztcndentem ad Croudieway 
dimidJam acrmm in eadem cultura abuttantem super eandem viam. 

** John EUam tenet unum toftum et zxiii acras terre arabilis, (scilicet], 

X acre iacentcs inter terram Tbomam Albright et terram . . . 
vii acras super Blakdiill . . . 
vi acras iuzta le Kensworth down. 


Of three Hertfordshire townships to the north of the summit 
of the hills, one thus lay in two fields in the thirteenth century, 
another probably in three, while the Kensworth evidence stops 
short with showing us a three-course rotation upon demesne 

South of the crest of the hills the early evidence changes, two 
fractional virgates being so described as to imply that parcelling 
out of virgates among fields was not there usual. A fine of 9 
John relative to Wheathamstead transfers " illam quartam par- 
tem unius virgate terre cum |>ertinentibus que iacet versus aus- 
trum et ocddentem a via que tendit de molendino de B[atford] 
usque ad mesuagium ipsius Rogeri." ^ If it be urged that this 
quarter-virgate may have been demesne, the same objection will 
not apply to the description of a half-virgate at Tewin. The 
account is contained in a charter, copied into an early fifteenth- 
century cartulary of St. Albans, by which " Adam filius Waited, 
parsone de Aete, [conveys to] Sanson de tebreg pro homagio et 
servido suo dimidiam virgatam terre in thebreg, Ulam, videlicet, 
dhnidiam virgatam terre que iacet inter terram predicti San- 
sonis et terram Roberti de thebreg' sub parco de Aiete versus le 
su . . . Reddendo inde annuatim . . . duos solidos.''^ Hom- 
age, service, and rent imply customary land, and the whole de- 
scription, like the one preceding, suggests that the plots of land 
in question were imdivided. 

It should by no means be assumed that all Hertfordshire vir- 
gates or fractions thereof were at an early time compact areas. 

"Thomas Affrith tenet z acras terre arabilis divisim iacentes in campis de 
Kenesworth, [scilicet], 

hr acrat apud le Greneway ducens a Kencswwth versus le Down 
i acram . . . apud Gatepath 

i acram et dimidiain . . . super StokynghiU . . . super terras WflUdmi Ftjmdey 
i acram super casdem terras 

dimidiam acram iacentem iuzta terram dcHnini la 2^che 
ii acras . . . iuxta terram Johannis Movell 
dimidiam acram in Crouchedene et est forera et extendit super Croucheway. 

" George Ingleton tenet [libere] xi et dimidiam acras terre divisim iacentes, imde 

V acre similiter iacent iuxta le Spitleway 
iv acre Iacent super Aldreht 
ii acre similiter iacent ibidem 
dimidia acra iacet in le Galowfurlong." 

» Ped. Fin., 84-7-18. « Cott MS., JuL D lU, f. 64. 


On the contrary, one may see how exceptional were the two just 
described by referring to several eariy terriers from the Essex 
border, all of which testify to the existence of intermixed parcels 
in open field. One of these, from Alswick, describing a half- 
virgate given in the thirteenth century to the priory of Dunmow, 
eniunerates the acres as follows: — 

" iv acras iacentes in scalchedelle 
et dimidiam acram et dimidiam Rodam que iacent [iiixta] terrain Stephanl 

decani in alio campo adversus graviam decani 
et duas acras et dimidiam Rodam que iacent in eodem campo in duas partes 
et acram et dimidiam et unam Rodam per se usque ad viam 
et ii acras dimidiam rodam minus [sic] inter Alwardeshei et Siwinesho 
iii rodas sub domo yvonis derid iuxta terram sparche 
et imam acram in puse crofth 
et ii acras quae iacent in campo adversus pucheleshei inter terras brid et 

et iii Rodas que appeUantur Hevodacher 
et ii acras terre quae iacent circa dellam." ^ 

Unmistakable characteristics of open fields are here visible: 17^ 
acres were divided into ten parts, many of them small; two par- 
cels were in the same field, another lay per se, and another formed 
a head acre. 

The parcels of this terrier had, however, been subjected to no 
two- or three-field arrangement. Although evidence of such a, 
plan might escape us in a single charter, it would scarcely fail to 
appear in the numerous terriers that are available. Such records 
the feet of fines, the cartulary of Waltham abbey, and that of 
St. John Baptist at Colchester supply in no grudging measure.* 

1 Harl. MS. 662, f. 676. 

* Typical illustrations from each of these sources follow: — 
At Barkway, in the northeastern hills, Abbot Adam of St. John Baptist^s, Col- 
chester, conceded to Robert le Moine, about 1200, 

" meaaghim cum una acra terre et dimidiain [sicl iiucta foatem qui uocatur BedeweUe 

et alhid mesagium . . . cum dimklia acra 

et tret acras cum prato ehisdem latHudinis extra forum de Berqueia 

et unam acram et dimidiam penes Bruneslawe 

et duas acras et dimidiam iuzta Suineslauue 

eft septem acras in Hod dd 

et unam acram et dimidiam in campo de Ried 

et unam acram iuzta Tieucsstrate 

et octo acras que adjacent ad Tieuesstrate 

et unam acram et dimidiam super MalmheUe 

et tret acras que extendunt super Hdeuueie 

et quinque acras in campo de Ried . . " (Cartmlarium Momasterii SancH Johammis 
BapHsUCoUctstriat ed. S. A. Moore, Roxburghe Chib, a ^rob., 1897, ii. 630). 


Unfortunately, however, virgates are seldom described so fully as 
they are in the mstance just quoted, although the statement that 
a messuage accompanies the parcels often shows that tenants' 
holdings are in question. The characteristics of open field — 
small parcels in several localities and sometimes two parcels in 
the same furlong — are usually apparent in these terriers. Prac- 
tically all of them, however, fail to group parcels according to 
two or three fields. The only item suggesting such a grouping 
is from Stanstead, where in the thirteenth century thirty arable 
acres were divided among three fields as follows: — 


In campo qui vocatur Alfladesfelde quindecem acias 
et in campo qui vocatur Kyngesfelde decern acras 
et in campo qui vocatur Bokkeberwefekl quinque acras." ^ 

Even these acres, it should be noted, were unaccompanied by a 
messuage and were imequally divided among the fields. Since 
this is only one of a long series of Stanstead grants, and since all 
the others apportion their acres unequally among fields, there is 

At Munden a fine of 15 John enumerates six acres as follows: — 

" i Kimm in Netheriee hazU etMutum 
et ad cbevktM Alius ftcre tmam rodam et dimidiam 
et Infra etMUtum duas aciat et i rodam 
et in Hertwdletcbote dimidiam acram 

et in campo qui vocatur Puchdeslee unam acram et dimidiam . . . 
et in eodem campo unam acram et dimidiam 
et in Buttes unam rodam et dimidiam 
et in Bradecroft duas acras et dimidiam 
et ad chevicias de Sewanesfeki unam rodam 
et in eodem canq» de Sewancsf dd tres rodas cum f oreia 
et unam acram bosd " (Ped. Fin., 84-7-20). 

A grant at Stanstead, typical of many that occur in the Waltham cartulary, 
runs as follows: — 

" Concessi viginti acias terre mee arabilis in villa de Stanstede, sdlket, 
duas acras terre et dimidiam cum mesuagio que sunt tx oppostto molmdini de Stanstede 
et tres acras et dimidiam super Ketteshell 
et unam et dimidiam ultmus in eodem campo 

et tx oppoeito de Ketteshdl tx parte altera duas acras et unam rodam . . . 
et quinque rodas terre et dimidiam ultra le Newestimte . . . 
et duas acras et unam rodam ad quercum . . . 
et duas acras ulterius in eodem campo 
et unam croftam cum squbus et fossatb oontinentem quatuor acras iuzta mcsuagium 

Jordan! Partxyke . . . 
et unum mesuagium cum crolta quod vocatur hoagodcshamstaU quod continrt tres 

rodas . • . 
et tres acru prati md et dimidiam " (Harl. MS. 4809. f. X46). 

» Harl. MS. 4809, f. 147*. 


no reason for interpreting the passage as evidence of the existence 
of a three-field system. 

Hertfordshire testimony of the thirteenth century thus concurs 
with that of the sixteenth. Although from the first the county 
probably had numerous enclosures and considerable woodland, 
there was doubtless in the more o|>en regions an abundance of 
open field. This field was, however, irregular in character, the 
parcels of arable, so far as can be seen, not being grouped by 
furlongs into two or three large areas. On the contrary, the fields 
were, as in Surrey, numerous, often curiously named, and pre- 
sumably small. The origin and affiliation of such a field system 
can best be discussed in connection with similar questions regard- 
ing the other coimties of the lower Thames valley. 

Middlesex and the CkiUems 

The western half of Middlesex retained much open field until the 
period of parliamentary enclosure. Slater's list of acts includes 
the names of nearly all the townships of this part of the county, 
and considerable of the area tabulated must have been arable. 
From the eastern half, however, only two townships figure in his 
enumeration, Enfield and Edmonton. To the latter the enclosure 
act assigns 1231 acres, but a Jacobean survey makes it clear 
that not more than 500 of them can have been arable common 
field.^ The 3540 acres mentioned in the Enfield act undoubtedly 
comprised a certain amount of arable, since the reporter to the 
Board of Agriculture in 1793 bewails the exbtence of '^ a large 
tract of common field Ismd watered by the New River, at present 
condemned to lie fallow every third year." * 

The Jacobean survey of Edmonton just mentioned illustrates 
well the irregular field S3rstem of eastern Middlesex. The village 
lies halfway between London and Waltham abbey in the valley 
of the Lea, not far' from the point where the three counties of 
Hertfordshire, Middlesex, and Essex meet. Most of the numer- 
ous tenants held a few acres of customary land, although the 

^ Land Rev., M. B. 320, ff.iia-185. 

* T. Baiid, General View 0} the Agriculture of the County of Middlesex (London, 
1793). p. 36. 


messuages were often freeholds leased by them.^ Fully half 
the township lay in closes, usually pasture land, and many ten- 
ants had parcels in the common marsh. Over and above the 
pasture and marsh there was considerable imenclosed arable di- 
vided into many fields, in most of which three or four tenants had 
parcels. These fields, numbering about a dozen, seldom con- 
tained more than twenty acres apiece. Typical of them were 
Langhedge, Okefeld, Hegfeeld, Dedfeeld, all of which iq>pear in 
the holdings reproduced in Appendix VI. Only one open-field 
area, that called " le Hyde," was large and shared in by many 
tenants. It was quite normal for a tenant to have, along with 
his enclosed pasture, arable acres in le Hyde and in perhaps one 
other area, zxi irregular arrangement which was of course in- 
compatible with a two- or three-field system. 

This being the situation in eastern Middlesex, it only remains to 
inquire whether conditions were similar in the rest of the county. 
In the west the nearest approach to a three-field arrangement 
appears at Feltham. This township, situated in the plain of the 
Thames, on the highway from Staines to Hampton, is described 
in a survey of 2 James I.* At that time the fields were three, 
with names reminiscent of the midlands (Further field. Middle 
field. Home field), and the copyholds were divided with more or 
less equality among them. It may well be that this was a town- 
ship cultivated in the midland manner.' 

Elsewhere the evidence tells against the creeping of midland 
habits down the Thames. Cold Kennington, the village that 
gave its name to the manor which embraced Feltham, had not 
three fields but two, and in the holdings that are specifically de- 
scribed (four of the six are not) the division of acres between these 

' A dozen of the copyholds have been summarized in Appendix VI. 

* Summaries of the most important copyholds are given in Appendix VI. 

* Slater's intimation that three fields were enclosed by the Coidey and Hillhig- 
don enclosure act {English Peasantry, p. 287) should not mislead us. The peti- 
tion for this act asks that " certain Common Fields called Cowley Field, Church 
Adcroft, and Sudcrofts " be divided between the two parishes as well as apportioned 
anew to the tenants and enclosed. These fields were, therefore, not those of a 
three-fidd township, but fields that chanced to be common to two townships. 
Nor are their names the usual ones for three important fields. Cf . Journal qf 
the House of Commons, 21 Jan., 35 Geo. III. 


fields was irregular.^ An Elizabethan terrier of Harleston farm, 
which was the property of All Souls College and had its open-field 
lands in Willesdon, after enumerating the closes, proceeds with 
the open-field parcels, which it locates in seven fields or shots smd 
in two meadows.* 

From the thirteenth century, also, the specifications of Middle- 
sex virgates fail to suggest two or three fields. At East Green- 
ford a fine of 4 John describes a half-virgate as comprising 9 acres 
in Lukemere and 3 in the field " toward Bramte," while East 
field and West field receive only i\ acres each.' At Laleham the 
fourth of a virgate is assigned in a thirteenth-century transfer to 
seven localities, four of which were furlongs.* To be sure, the 
Laleham enclosure map of 1803 dubs the small open field above 
the village North field and the large one below it South field; ' 

^ The survey is combined with that of Feltham, just referred to (Land Rev., 
M. B. 220, ff. 97-98). \^^iam Newmann had a messuage, a dose of one acre, and 
2} acres of arable in Court field, 15^ in West fidd; Anthony Taylor had a messuage, 
a close of four acres, and 2\ acres in Court fidd, 13 in West fidd. 

' All Souls MSS., Terrier 32 (1593). The distribution of open-fidd acres is as 

follows: — 

HuDgerfaffl. I. i. 1. 1, i. i. i. i. \, i. i. i, i, i, f , i. i. xi [- 8i acres] 

Knowles slioot, i. i. i. i (■- if acres] 

Blacklanda. |, i, i i. f I- ai acres) 

Fortune feild. i. i, i. I, i, 3. xi (- 6 acres) 

The great marshe mead, J, J, J, J, |, |, 2, 1, f, f, f, |, f, f, J, |, ij I- gf acres] 

The little marshe mead, i, x> 3, i, i (~ 6 acres) 

Brontfdld. i, X. |. x. |, x, i. i. x. i. i. i. \, i. i. x}. i, i. |. f, i, i. \, i. i. i. \, | 

[- isi acres) 
Meesdoon 6eld, x, \ [» i\ acres) 
Little manicrofts, i. I, I I* i acre) 

There is also a map showing the doses and <^)en-field strips of the farm (Typus 
Collegii, 11, maps 18-22). 

* " vi acras terre in Lukemere versus occidentem 

et in eodem campo tres acras versus orientem 

et in campo qui se eztendit versus bramte p) duas acras versus astrum 

et in eodem campo versus ecclesiam iiii particas terre pro i acra versus aquilonem 

et in Estfeld i acram et dimidiam versus Horsendtme 

et in Westfeld i acram et dimidiam versus eundem Horsendune " (Ped. Fin., X46-2-34). 

* Ped. Fin., 146-3-22. The distribution is as follows: — 

** In Langfurland tres perticatas terre ex parte Occidentali 
et in Midddfurlang dimidiam acram tx parte orientali 
et fan Broclurlang dimidiam acram ex parte Occidentali 
et in Retherford dimidiam acram ex parte orientali 
et in Brache unam perticatam ex parte orientali 
et in Sbelpe dimidiam acram prati ex parte Ocddentdi 
et In Bottefurlanff unam perticatam prati cbt parte Occidentali." 

» C. P. Rcc Ro., 43 Geo. Ill, Trin. 


but these names must have been merely topographical, since, 
apart from the divergence in the size of the fields, a township in 
this fertile region could hardly at any time have been tilled under 
a two-course rotation. Indeed, we know that in the near-by 
township of Sutton, held by the canons of St. Paul's, the three- 
course rotation usual on the demesnes of their manors was early 
employed.^ It is probable that the Sutton demesne was unen- 
closed,' although the names of the divisions in which it lay, as 
well as the area assigned to each, preclude the midland S3rstem of 
two or three large fields.' Thus the earlier Middlesex evidence is 
in conflict with that of the Jacobean survey of Feltham, the three 
seventeenth-century fields of which township must have been 

If it be true that the midland field system did iq>pear in the 
Middlesex plain, there is no doubt that the manifestations of it 
there were isolated from the midland area by the interposition 
of a different system, one which followed the Chiltems to the 
Thames and crossed it east of Reading. For the evidence from 
this Chiltem region regarding irregular fields is full and con- 
vincing. If we follow the river up from Windsor into the mid- 
land plain, we shall in so doing have an oiq>ortunity to observe 
Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire townships on the one hand 
and those of Bericshire on the other. 

The Buckinghamshire reporters to the Board of Agriculture 
stated that the occupiers of the common fields of Horton (500 
acres), Wraysbury (200 acres), Dachet (750 acres), Upton (1500 
acres), Eton (300 acres), and Domey (600 acres), all townships 
lying near Eton, " have exploded entirely the old usage of two 
cn^ and a fallow and have a crop every year." * May not this 
deviation in 1794 from the three-course rotation which prevailed 

^ A leue of 1283 specifies that 44 meres were sown with com and 18 with lye or 
mixtilion, 60 with oats and 12 with barley, while 64 lay fallow (MSS. of the Dean 
and Chapter of St. Paul's, Lib. I, f. 24). 

* A measurement of 1 299 attributes its acres to various quarettteBes(lbkL«f. 336). 

* There were in all 90 acres in Suthfeld, 47 in Breche, 9 in Hanwtal, 36 in Est- 
feld, 9 in Nocthfeld, 66 in Wcstfeld, 22 in Ekkfeld (ibid., f. 33). 

* W. James and J. Makolm, Gentnd VUw ^ tJk AgncmUmft tf Qm Cmmty of 
Bmckmikom (London, 1794), p. 27. 


elsewhere in the county have been facilitated by the exbtence 
of fields already irregular ? The reporters do not tell us when 
the change took place, but it may have been long before • they 

Most instructive in showing the character of Buckinghamshire 
open fields in this r^on is a survey of Famham Royal made in 
6 James I. Although by far the greater part of the manor was 
enclosed, some 250 acres of unenclosed field are described.^ While 
there were four recurring common fields, the system was by no 
means a four-field one, nor was it even reminiscent of two fields. 
The acres were unequally apportioned, Hawthorne field receiving 
most of them and any field being liable to neglect. If in the 
eighteenth century the fields of all the townships round Eton 
were like those*of Famham two centuries before, transition from 
a three-course husbandry was invited by the location of the ten- 
ants' acres. 

Ascending the Thames past Henley, we come into the small 
plain about Reading, where the valley widens just east of the 
main ridge of the Chiltems. Regarding sixteenth-century fields 
here we are instructed by two useful surve3rs of townships within 
five miles of Reading — those relating to Sonning, Berkshire, and 
Caversham, Oxfordshire. 

Since the Sonning survey is arranged according to three tithings, 
the tenants and fields of which differ, we have in it, so far as 
tillage is concerned, the record of three independent townships.* 
The tithing of Okingham was practically enclosed.' A yard-land 
there usually consisted of some twenty enclosed acres, for the 
most part arable. At times there were from two to four acres 
in an open field, but such fields are too insignificant to merit at- 
tention. More open was the tithing of Wynnershe, several 
of the copyholds of which have been summarized in Appendix 
VI. Occasionally yard-lands were here enclosed (e. g., those of 
Agnes Astell and Robert Phillipps), but most of them had con- 
siderable arable and some meadow in the fields. This arable, 

^ The holdings which contain most of it are transcribed in Appendix VI. 

* The tenants of the several tithings have rights of pasture in the same commons. 

' Land Rev., M. B. 202, ff. 74-83. 


apart from a few outlying acres, was disposed within a group of 
three fields (Demys, Whetershe, Benhams) or, if not in these, 
within another group of four (Stony, Goswell, Old Orchard, 
Rudges). Whichever group, however, a yard-land favored, among 
the fields themselves there was no equal apportionment of acres. 
K a three-field system employing six fields had ever been in force, 
here it had fallen into decay, a supposition which the presence of 
numerous enclosures renders not incredible. The third tithing, 
the one called by the parish name of Sonning, was not imUke 
Wynnershe.^ Although at times a holding there was enclosed 
(e. g. the half yard-land of John Gregory), most of the cultivated 
land lay in o|>en field. Of the four fields which most often recur, 
to the one called Bulmershe there was seldom assigned more 
than an acre, whereas Charfielde frequently received a greater 
number of acres than did all the remaining fields together. A 
three-field system can hardly have been constructed on such 

Across the river from Sonning is Caversham, which the survey 
of 5 Edward VI pictures as already largely enclosed. The vir- 
gate holdings in this township show that frequently not more 
than between one-fifth and one-tenth of a tenant's land lay in the 
o|>en fields.^ Yet the fields were numerous, a dozen of them 
being mentioned and a half-dozen often reciuring. Usually a 
holding had its acres in only three or four of them, and then 
with no regularity. Small fields which, like these, played so 
slight a part in the economy of a township could easily depart 
from any S3rstematic cultivation without inconvenience to their 
tenants, and apparently those at Caversham had done so. If a 
three-field or a six-field arrangement ever existed there, it had 
disappeared before the middle of the sixteenth century. 

Passing farther up the Thames, we reach the outposts of the 
region of irregular fields. These lay in Oxfordshire, either on 
the northwestern slopes of the Chiltems or in the bottom lands 
below. Watlington and Ewelm rq>resent the former, Warbor- 
ough and Bensington the latter. Typical holdings from Jacobean 
surveys of each of these four townships, which are situated near 

^ Illustrative holdings are given in Appendix VI. 


one another, are summarized in Appendix VI. In all four open 
field largely predominated. The number of fields^ however, 
varied from township to township, and the acres held by indi- 
vidual tenants were nowhere evenly divided among the fields. 
Ewelm perhaps approached most closely to the midland arrange- 
ment. Three open fields, Grove, Middle, and Church, frequently 
recur, and in three or four instances the tripartite division of the 
open-field acres of a holding was nearly achieved. In many cases, 
however, one or more of these fields are disregarded, while as 
many as a dozen others are mentioned. At both Watlington and 
Bensington there were about a dozen fields, in from one to seven 
of which the acres of a tenant might lie. No group of three 
fields stood prominently forth in either township, nor can a six- 
field arrangement be discovered. The fourth of the townships, 
Warborough, did to be sure, have six fields; but here too, if we 
try to combine any three with any other three, we shall get such 
improbable apportionments of tenants' acres as 4, i^, 8^. Since 
there are several such inequalities for each equitable division, we 
are forced to consider the o|>en fields intractable like those of 
the other townships. It may be added that nineteenth-century 
enclosure plans and awards concerned with these four places 
evince no regularity in field arrangements. To judge, then, from 
all the instances noticed above, it seems probable that the irregu- 
lar fields of Surrey and Middlesex extended into the Chiltem 
region of the three counties to the west, and came to an end only 
when they reached the plain of southeastern Oxfordshire. . 


The early field system of few English counties is so difficult to 
describe as that of Essex. At the time when records of it were 
first made, much of the county was already enclosed. The earliest 
evidence thus assumes peculiar importance, but since it is of a 
fragmentary nature it forbids any but tentative conclusions. 

Like Kent, Essex was referred to in the sixteenth century as one 
of those counties " wheare most Inclosures be." ^ A descriptive 

1 John Hales, A Discourse of the Common Weal of this Realm of England (1549, 
ed. E. Lamond, Cambridge, 1893), p. 49. 


rental of St. Paul's manor of Heybridge in 1675, ^^ ^ P^ ^^ 
New College's manor of Homechurch Hall in 1662, show closes 
only,^ and so do various accounts of late sixteenth-centuiy 
conditions. A two-hundred-page survey of Westham, a short 
one of the manor of Lawford Hall, an excellent <Hie of East- 
wood Bury, a plan of four ^^ tenements " in Woodham Ferrers, 
describe enclostires.* From the times of Henry Vlll and Ed- 
ward IV we hear principally of crofts in a detailed rental of 
Rivenhall, in the fragment of a survey of Sandon, in extracts from 
the court rolls of Crepin^iall, in a description of tenants' hold- 
ings at Newhall in Boreham, and in a full account of the manor 
of Wikes.' Finally, fourteenth- and fifteenth-century terriers of 
the lands of various chantries at Colchester seem to be concerned 
mainly if not altogether with enclosures.^ 

Such evidence might raise the question, as it did in Kent, 
whether common arable fields ever existed, and the topography 
of the county might suggest that Essex was isolated from its 
western neighbors by stretches of forest through which (q)en-field 
usages never found their way. It is true in a measure that the 
western boundary of the county was rdnforced by tracts of for- 
est. Toward Hertfordshire lay Hatfield Chase, toward Middle- 
sex the wider reach of Epping. These forests, however, seem 
not to have acted as barriers to colonization or conununication. 
To judge from the frequency with which Domesday hamlets were 
scattered throughout them, their settlement was not long de- 
layed; * and the numerous possessions of Waltham abbey within 
the bounds of Epping at an early period indicate that communica- 
tion with the home manor to the west cannot have been difficult. 
There is thus no topographical reason why western Essex should 

1 MSS. of the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's, Press A, Box 63; RawL MS. 

< Ezch. Aug. Of., M. B. 435, ff. 1-113, 3 Jas. I; Add. MS. 34649, i Jas.; RawL 
MS. B 308, 8 Eliz.; Harl. MS. 6697, ff. 20-24, 21 Hi^. 

» Rents, and Survs., Portf. 2/44, 7/47; ibid., Ro. 196, 3 Edw. IV; Treas. of 
Receipt, M. B. 163, f. 47. 

^ Philip Morant, History and Antiquities of the County of Essex (2 vols., Chelms- 
ford, 1816), i. 150-158. 

* See the Domesday map in Victoria History of Essex, i. 426-427; also W. R. 
Fisher, The Forest of Essex, London, 1887. 


have been isolated from Hertfordshire and Middlesex in its field 
systems. Nor does it seem to have been. The dividing line in 
field usages, passed through the county rather than along the 
border, and set apart the northwest as a region indistinguishable 
from Hertfordshire in the aq>ect of its open fields. In the central 
and southeastern part of the county, however, different arrange- 
ments and possibly Kentish affinities are perceptible. 

The northwest is a continuation of the Hertfordshire highlands, 
that here form part of the boundary of the midland plain. In 
Essex the river Cam, flowing northward, issues from the hills, 
which are noticeably lower than in Hertfordshire. From both 
the valley and the hill region we have several terriers that agree 
in demonstrating the prevalence of open fields in this part of the 
county. In every way these fields were similar to those of Hert- 
fordshire, and especially noteworthy is the fact that the numer- 
ous parcels of a holding were never grouped as if lying in two or 
three large arable areas. 

In some terriers the parcels were seldom larger than an acre 
and were widely dispersed throughout the fields. At Wenden, for 
example, the six acres which in 8 John formed part of a virgate 
were located in twelve places.^ At other times several parcels 
fell within one of the open-field divisions, the names of which 
were of the most varied sort, often being reminiscent of hill and 
woodland. Fifteen acres at Arkesden which were given to the 
monks at Walden early in the fourteenth century are illustrative 
of conditions in the district. The twenty parcels were located as 
follows, the areas being in acres: — 


in campo qui vocatur Newey, i, i 
" in campo qui vocatur Mapeldeneswdl, i}, } 
** in canqx) qui vocatur Apostolgrove, 2, }, i 
" in canqx) qui vocatur Witedune, } 
** in campo qui vocatur Blakedune, }^ }, i, i, |, | 
" in campo qui vocatur Stockyng, i 
" in canqx) qui vocatur Burgatesshot, i 
" in campo qui vocatur Sevenacres, | 
" in campo qui vocatur Langeland, }, i 
" in campo qui vocatur Wyndemelnessot, }.*' * 

^ Fed cf Fines jor Essex (ed. R. £. G. Kirk, Essex Archaeol. Soc., 1899, etc.), 
i. 37 (no. 197). * Harl. MS. 3697, f. 1436. 


Elsewhere the parcels were larger, and might seem to have been 
doses were it not that the field names and the assignment of 
more than one parcel to the same field divisicm reassure us. A 
list of such parcels in the following terrier is illustrative of some 
sixty pages of similar matter in the Walden cartulary, and es- 
jtablishes the existence of open fields at Saffron Walden, in the 
upper vaUey of the Cam : — 

" due acre in Benepistel 
sex acre et una roda quarum unum ca{>ut extendi! super mankmd . . . 
due acre super Sortegravehill . . . 
due acre super Sortegravehill que vocantur le Gorey . . . 
una acra et tres rode in eodem campo 
ties acre et una roda super Putemannesdole 
tres acre et una roda et quarta pars imius rode in Goredlond 
septem acre et tres rode in Middelsot 
dimidia acra ex opposito Eustachii de Broc 
una acra ... in eodem campo." ^ 

The Dimmow cartulary takes us a little farther toward the 
center of the county and fixes the probable limit of open field. 
There can, for instance, be no doubt about its existence at Hen- 
ham, where ten acres were disposed in seven parcels among 
various field divisions.* At Henham, too, we hear of " totam 
dalam terre . . . que iacet apud le' 'helz de Rokey inter terram 
Radulfi Rafur et terram Galfridi Dolling. Et dalam illam in 
eodem campo inter terram Amulfi et Rogeri le hog."* These 
dales recall the open fields of northern England, and in the guise 
of " doles " recur elsewhere in this region. * Just to the west of 
Henham a fine of 40 Henry IH locates sixteen acres at Manewden 
in nine parcels.^ Other instances of scattered parcels hereabouts 
are available, but perhaps enough have been adduced to show 

1 Harl. MS. 3697, f. 896. 

< HarL MS. 662, f. 596. The acres were distributed as follows: — 

3I in Bcnnv el chc \ in Hofdd 

I in vicUnde 3 in Coperdenefdd 

i| in CockCTdenefdd i in cralto meo 

« Ibid., f. 586. 

^ Land in Alsewic, Herts, is specified as seven doles, each separately described 
(ibid., f. X16). At Middleton one of the parceb in a holding was in the fourteenth 
century described as one *' dole terre continens i acram que vocatur Sheppelond in 
Sturfdd (Rents, and Survs., Portf. 25/17)* 

* Kirk, Essex Fines, L 216 (no. 1286). 


that there can be no hesitation in assigning this comer of the 
county to the province of open field. Its open fields, however, 
were not of the midland type, but resembled those of Hertford- 
shire. So far as can be seen, parcels were not arranged with a 
view to a two- or three-course husbandry accompanied by pas- 
turage of the fallow. The terminations dene^ dune (done), and 
lee suggest, further, furlongs in a woodland area; and it is possible 
that a township's arable arose from the continued assarting of 
the waste, with an adaptation, but no adoption, of midland 

Throughout all of the county except the northwestern comer 
traces of open-field husbandry are slight. Seldom, even in the 
early fines or charters, do we meet with the series of small parcels 
which betray the presence of intermixed arable strips. Since 
these fines are both numerous and specific and do not fail to 
ascribe small parcels to the northwest,^ their failure to record 
similar phenomena in the remainder of the county becomes a 
telling negative argimient against the existence of open arable 
fields there. 

Later Essex surveys and terriers have the objectionable habit 
of merely reciting the parcels of the tenants' holdings without 
grouping or describing them in any way. The sixteenth-century 
documents referred to at the beginning of this chapter are useful 
in that they go so far as to indicate which parcels were doses. 
What we should like to know, however, is the character and ap- 
pearance of the primitive villein holding. Inspection of the 
fines and extents reveals the fact that the Essex unit was often the 
virgate or yardland.* It appears as such on three of St. Paul's 
manors in 1222,' and on many Waltham manors tenants held 
virgates.* There were at Bocking in the thirteenth century 22 J 
virgates, 10 '' forlands," and 7 half-forlands, each forland doing 

^ Cf., in addition to instances already dted, 6 acres in 13 parceb at Heydon, 
and si acres in 4 parcels at Birchanger (Kirk, Essex Fines, i. 41, 61, 9 John, no. 228, 
and 6 Hen. Ill, no. 91). 

* Ibid., 9 sq. passim, 

* Beaucfaamp, Wickham, Tidwoldington: W. H. Hale, Domesday of SL Paul's, 
Camden Soc., 1858, pp. 27, 33, 52. 

^ E.g.,Woodford,Nettle8weU (13th century): Cott. MS., Tiber. CDC, ff. 205^210. 


one-fourth as many days' week-work as a virgate.^ Virgates are 
also found at Bemeston in 13 Henry VI and at Felsted Bury in 
41 Edward III.* Sometimes, however, the villein unit took less 
committal names. At Hadley there were 22^ '^terre," and 6 
'^ moneday londs," the services from each being given in detaiL' 
Lalling, described in the same series, had 12^ ^^ terre " from which 
viUein services were due.^ Elsewhere no name whatever is given 
to the unit; in the thirteenth-century enumeration of services 
due at Borley, for example, we find merely '' de singulis zx acris 
terre." * 

Although infonnation to the effect that the virgate or a corres- 
ponding unit was the standard viUein holding can be deduced 
from the extents and from Domesday,* it is impossible to discover 
from them or from other docmnents hitherto dted what was the 
aspect of the virgate. For that reason the later descriptions 
contained in a Jacobean survey are of importance. The survey 
in question describes the large manor of Barking in southwestern 
Essex, not far from London. Although for the most part it neg- 
lects to group the acres of its holdings in any way, there are 
happy exceptions, of which the three following descriptions are 
typical: — 

'^ Idem Johanis [Trewlove] similiter tenet imam virgatam terre 
custmumarie et heriottalis vocatam Coryes . . . iacentem ex 
parte orientali de le Fyve Elmes in Daggenham cum vi denariis 
redditus annuatim perdpiendis de una crofta terre vocata 
Whites continente per estimationem iii acras que nuper fuit par- 
cella predicte virgate terre; de qua quidem virgata terre quatuor 
dausa continent per estimationem xii acras terre arabilis insimul 
iacenda inter terram . . . et tres alia clausa residuum predicte 
virgate . . . continent per estimationem vii acras terre arabilis 

1 MSS. of the Dean and Chapter of Christchurch, Canterbury, Lib. B, ff. 
1156, 1326. 

< Rents, and Survs., D. of Lane Portf. 2/5; ibid., Ro. 188. 

' Add. MS. 6160, f. 68 (early 14th century). 

^ Ibid., f. 69. 

' MSS. of the Dean and Chapter of Christchurch, Canterbury, Lib. B, f. 143. 

* e. g., at Homdon, Liston, Crq>ing Hall, East Donyland, etc: Victoria History 
of Essex, i. 560-566. 


et iiii acras bosd et insimul iacent super terrain Jacob! Har- 
vey. . . . 

'' Thomas Humfrey tenet sibi et heredibus suis per copiam 
. . . unam virgatam terre custumarie et heriottalis vocatam long- 
yerd . . . continentem per estimationem vii acras terre arabilis 
et septem acras bosd abuttantes super Blackhethe versus bo- 
riam et venellam ducentem a le kings highway versus . . . et 
terram nuper Thome Pruey . . . versus Austnim et terram 
Josephi Haynes armigeri versus boriam. . . . 

'' Johannes Pragle tenet per copiam . . . unam virgatam terre 
. . . vocatam Beesdown ab antiquo Roughlands continentem per 
estimationem Novemdedm Acras terre arabilis iacentem in pa- 
rochia de Dagenham abuttantem super terram liberam predicti 
Johanis versus ocddentem et terram nuper Thome Cowper vo- 
catam Sawgors versus boriam et terram Roberti Scott generosi 
et terram pertinentem le Almeshouse de Romford versus ocd- 
dentem.'* * 

Two of the above virgates consisted of arable and woodland, 
the third of arable only. While the first of the three comprised 
two groups of closes probably separate, the others were compact 
areas, and, though nothing is said about their being endosed, 
such was without doubt thdr condition. The nature of the 
virgate of southwestern Essex at the end of the sixteenth century 
thus becomes apparent. It was sometimes, at least, a compact 
area usuaUy divided into doses of arable and woodland. 

The testimony of earlier documents confirms that of the Bark- 
ing survey. A glebe terrier at Kelvedon declared in 1356 that 
the vicar should '' have 62 acres of arable land whereof 52 acres 
lie together near the aforesaid mansion in one field called the 
Churchfield with the hedge adjoining, and nine acres in a field 
called Lyndeland as enclosed with hedges and ditches." * Most 
important of the early doamients, however, are the feet of fines. 
After 1235, to be sure, they rarely mention virgates, but the fol- 
lowing descriptions are informing. At Dunmow, which was near 
the open-field part of the county, the fourth of a virgate was 

1 Land Rev., M. B. 214, ff. 285, 312, 318. 

* Essex Archaeol. Soc., rraiu., new series, 191 1, xi. 7. 


specified in 3 Henry III as one-half of a messuage, '' with the 
field called Wudelehe, and with a moiety of Smithescroft." ^ At 
Laver, in 5 John, the half of a virgate consisted of '^ all the 
land which lies between Bredenewell and the wood towards the 
west, and 3 acres of land which lie between the road {cheminum) 
of the same town and the wood towards the north." * Lastly, 
at Havering in the southwest 50 acres were in 15 John taken from 
one and one-half virgates and located in such a way as to be- 
speak complete enclosure.' 

Thirteenth- as well as sixteenth-century accounts of Essex vir- 
gates thus describe them as being largely consolidated; nowhere, 
except in the northwestern part of the county were they com- 
posed of small scattered parcels. Mention of them in the fines 
and charters becomes so infrequent after the first quarter of the 
thirteenth century as to render generalization somewhat imsafe, 
but the evidence at hand points unanimously and unmistakably 
to the largely consolidated virgate as characteristic of much of the 
county. The case is strengthened by the descriptions of numer- 
ous holdings which were not virgates. These, too, were composed, 
not of small scattered strips, but of larger areas which may 
have been little separated. Certainly the impression carried 
away from a perusal of the E^ssex fines is very different from that 
given by the fines of most other English counties. One feels that 
they resemble rather closely the equally unusual fines of Kent. 
K, whether in terrier or survey, we trust to the api>earance of the 
virgate holdings or even to the aspect of holdings of any sort, we 
shall be inclined to ally the greater part of Essex with its southern 
neighbor in respect to its field arrangements. 

^ Kirk, Essex Fines, i. 52 (no. 29). 

' Ibid., i. 32 (no. 146). 

' Ibid., i. 46 (no. 257). The locations wete as fcdiows: — 

9 acra in the doft odled HunsUH 
18 acres in the crolt called Nortfeld 

5 acres in the croft called Laiacre 
II acres in the crolt called Phistekroft 

5 acres in the crolt called Brigfdd 

9 acres in the crolt caBed La Dune. 



Before summarizing the results of this chapter we may profit- 
ably give a little attention to another group of early sources 
which has elsewhere been of some value in determining the char- 
acter of early field systems. This is the series of extents con- 
tained in the inquisitions post mortem. By explaining whether 
the acres of demesne lands lay one-half or one-third fallow and 
in conmion, these extents have heretofore supplemented the evi- 
dence got by locating in the fields the parcels of the holdings.^ 
Fourteenth-century records of this kind from the midland coun- 
ties have frequently assured us that the demesne was thus fallow 
and common; others from East Anglia, while they have revealed 
the same three-course rotation as prevailed on common lands in 
the sixteenth century, have not forced us to conclude that a three- 
field system was existent at the earlier period any more than at 
the later one, when, as we know, it did not prevail. Kentish ex- 
tents, on the other hand, have in our examination of them not 
admitted the possibility that demesne lands in Kent ever lay one- 
third fallow and in common. If, as occasionally happens, one- 
third of them are said to have lain fallow, the value put upon 
the pasturage of these shows that during the fallow season they 
were not open to common use.* Furthermore, we have found 
Kentish demesne sown yearly and valued as high as 12 (2. the 
acre, an undoubted indication of superior agriculture. 

It is time now to inquire whether any information, relative 
either to improved tillage of the demesne or to the distribution of 
demesne acres between two or three conmion fields, is available 
from the extents of the counties of the lower Thames valley. Al- 
though, like the other documents from this region, these extents 
are annoyingly noncommittal, those of the decade 7-16 Edward 
III, which have hitherto been referred to, give testimony of a 
general character. In the first place, it is noteworthy that the 

* Cf. above, p. 46, pp. 301-302. 

* *' Sunt ibidem dii^ acre terre arabilis que valent per annum quando seminan- 
tur iiii li. pretium acre vid. et quando non semlnantur pasture cuiuslibet acre valet 
ii d. De quibus seminabantur ante mortem predict! WiUiebni de semine yemali et 
quadrigesimali v^x acre '' (C. Inq. p. Mort., Edw. Ill, F. 65 (11), Throwley). 


highly-valued demesne acres of Kent nowhere a{^>ear. Valua- 
tions of the arable do not differ particularly from those of the 
midlands or of East Anglia, but range, like them, from 4^/. to 8<f. 
the acre. In the second place, statements, usual in the midland 
or East Anglian extents, to the effect that one-half or one-third 
of the demesne acres were without value because each year they 
lay fallow and in common, seldom occur in similar documents 
from the counties of the lower Thames. Surrey furnishes no such 
declarations in the extents of the decade referred to; Middlesex 
contributes the curious infonnation that one-third of certain de- 
mesne acres were intermixed fallow and yet retained a consider- 
able value; ^ the Hertfordshire instances, of which there are four, 
relate to townships near the northern border of the county;* and 
in the numerous Essex extents only once does the phrase charac- 
teristic of the midlands occur.' Not that there are in the extents 
of the decade in question no other traces of common usages or of 
the three-course rotation of crops. On the contrary, demesne 
acres are sometimes said to lie in common from the end of harvest 
till January,^ and a three-course rotation was at times practiced 

1 C. Inq. p. Mort., Edw. Ill, F. 66 (3a), Parva Gieenford: " Sunt ibidem vin 
acre terre pretium cuiuslibet acre de iiii™ iiii d. et residue zzzz acre iacent frisce inter 
friscas aliorum hominum que vaknt per annum quelibet acra ii d." 

* Ibid., F. 42 (18), Offley: " Et residuum predicte terre, vb., cc acre iacent in 
communi et vaknt per annum quum seminantur xxzxis. viiid. . . . et quum non 
seminantur nihil valent per annum quia per totum annum iacent in communi,^ 

Ibid., F. 52 (7), Berkhamstead: '' Sunt ibidem ccc acre terre arabilis quarum 
duo partes seminabantur ante mortem predicte Johannis et tertia pars iacet ad 
warectam et in communi . . . et quando non seminatur nihil valet quia iaoet in 


Ibid., F. 64 (20), Reed: " Sunt ibidem c acre terre arabilis que valent per annum 
xzzs. iiiid. ... Et inde seminantur ante mortem predicti Thome v^x acre et 
residuum iacet in communi." 

Ibid., F. 64 (20), WiddiaU: " Sunt ibidem ccc acre terre quarum cc valent per 
annum bms. viiid. ... Et inde seminabantur hoc anno semine yemali et quad- 
ragesimaU czzxx acre. Et residuum iacet ad warectam et in conmiunL" 

* Ibid., F. 6x (10), ToUeshunt: '' Sunt ibidem cdiii^v acre terre arabOis de 
quibus due partes possunt seminari per annum et tunc valet acra per annum 
quando seminatur iiiid. . . . et totum residuum nihfl valet quia iacet ad warectam 
et in communi per totum annum." 

^ Ibid., F. 38 (i), Moubey, Surrey: *' Sunt Iz acre terre arabOis que valent 
per annum zzs. . . . et non plus quia iacent in conmiuni a festo sancti PMri ad 
vinculos usque ad fcstum Purificationb beate Marie." 


upon enclosed demesne.^ Of evidence, however, which proves the 
practice of three-course husbandry upon demesne acres lying in 
common fields there is only the brief amount just dted. Apart 
from the testimony of four townships in northern Hertfordshire 
and of one in Essex, we have from a considerable body of extents 
no suggestion that a three-field system prevailed in the coimties 
of the lower Thames. 

As to these exceptions, the Hertfordshire townships, lying as they 
do on the borderland of the midland area, may well have adopted 
midland husbandry without coming to be in any way abnormal 
phenomena. The Essex instance, however, is more difficult of 
explanation. Tolleshunt is situated, not in northwestern Essex 
on the edge of the midlands, where three fields might be expected, 
but in the eastern part of the county near the coast. The state- 
ment, then, that one-third of the demesne lay fallow and com- 
mon there seems to import into the region the usages that lay 
behind similar statements in Norfolk and Suffolk extents. In 
those counties, as we have seen, a three-course rotation of crops 
on common fields did not, either in the sixteenth century or in the 
fourteenth, necessarily imply a three-field system. The same 
may have been true of Tolleshunt, and the field arrangements 
there may have been like those with which we have become fami- 
liar at Weasenham in Norfolk.^ 

Forms of tillage other than a three-course rotation of crops 
were also known in fourteenth-century Essex. At Chingford, in 
12 Edward HI, 240 acres from a total demesne of 260 acres were 
sown;* at Newport and at " Lachlegh " during the same decade 

^ C. Inq. p. Mort. Edw. Ill, F. 66 (27), Bennington, Herts: " Sunt ibidem ccc 
acre terre aiabilis quanim due partes seminar! possunt per annum. £t valent si 
seminantur \x s. viiii d. pretium acre iiii d. Et quando non seminantur pastura 
eorum duarum partium valet per annum xvi s. viii d. pretium acre i d. et non plus 
quia terra ilia est valde petrosa et inde male herbata. Et dicunt quod due partes 
seminabantur ante mortem dicti Petrum. Sed tertia pars, viz., c acre de predicta 
terra iacent ad warectam que valet per annum viii s. iiii d. pretium acre i d." 

* Cf. above, pp. 316-325. 

* C. Inq. p. Mort., Edw. Ill, F. 56 (x) : " Sunt ibidem cdx acre terre arabilis. 
... De quibus seminabantur ante mortem predicti Egidii de seisona hyemali d 

acre et de seisona quadragesimali iiii" x acre." 


i6o acres out of 220.^ These ratios recall that which we have 
seen maintained at Beddingfield in Suffolk a half-century later ,^ 
and suggest that the tillage of the ToUeshunt demesne may not 
have been the usual Essex practice. Such a belief is fostered by 
the isolation of the instance. Of the forty Essex extents con- 
tained in the inquisitions of the decade 7-16 Edward III, only at 
ToUeshunt is the demesne described as lying at the same time one- 
third fallow and in common. In view of these circumstances, it 
is scarcely necessary to abandon the conclusion reached from a 
study of Essex fines, charters, and surveys — the conclusion 
that the field system of Essex was not that of the midlands, but 
resembled either the East Anglian system or the Kentish. 

Having ascertained that the extents from the four counties of 
the lower Thames basin during a decade of the fourteenth century 
are almost entirely indifferent to the three-field system, we may 
proceed to summarize the more positive results of this chapter. 
The counties in question have been discussed together, not so much 
because of their topographical unity as because their field systems 
had certain characteristics which differentiated them from their 
neighbors on all sides. Unlike Kent and East Anglia, they des- 
ignated the imit of villein tenure a virgate; imlike the midlands, 
they did not distribute the parcels of a virgate between two or 
three large arable fields. 

Along with the characteristics which they had in common, how- 
ever, went certain divergences that distinguished one county from 
another. In Hertfordshire and Middlesex there was no exception 
to the use of the term virgate, and the occurrence of that imit 
was usual at a late date. With regard to Essex neither of these 
generalizations is valid. Other units were there sometimes sub- 
stituted for the virgate, notably the " terra " and an unnamed 
area of imiform size, both already met with in East Anglia. The 

^ C. Inq. p. Mort., Edw. Ill, F. 66 (33), Newport: *^ Sunt ibidem cczx acre terre 
arabilb . . . unde seminabantur ante mortem predicte Margaiete dz acre de 
semine yemali et quadragesimali." 

Ibid., F. 56 (i)/'Lachlegh": '' Sunt ibidem cczxii acre terre arabilis. ... De 
quibus seminabantur ante mortem predicti Egidii de seisona hyemali iiii^v acre et 
de seisona quadragesimali bom acre." 

* Cf. above, p. 331. 


integrity of the virgate, moreover, was not long maintained in 
Essex, where the use of the term so late as the sixteenth century 
was unusual. 

In Surrey virgates bore the midland name and continued in- 
tact; but the county furnishes one deviation from the customary 
nomenclature which is significant in determining the afiGdiation of 
the field system of at least a part of the region. This divergent 
nomenclature occurs in an extent of Ewell, undated, but at least 
as early as the thirteenth century.^ In this extent the tenants' 
holdings are never rated in virgates but always in iuga. The 
first tenant held '' unum iugerum [iugimi] terre continens xiii 
acras terre/' twelve others had one iugum each, one had one and 
one-half iuga, three had three iuga each, and fourteen had half- 
iuga. Although no field detail relative to the iuga is given, we 
are able to supply a certain amount from a field-book of 8 Henry 
IV.* In the latter doamient as we pass from furlong to furlong, 
each composed largely of acre and half-acre parcels in the hands 
of many tenants, we often meet with such items as ** dimidia acra 
quam tenet Thomas Wagmore de tenemento Wowards." • Now, 
one of the tenants of a half-iugum in the extent was Rogerus 
Woward; and by looking closely we shall find that many of the 
parcels of the field-book were still attributed to tenementa which 
bore the names of the tenants of the extent. In the interim be- 
tween the drawing up of the two documents the iuga had come 
to be called tenementa and the constituent parcels of each iugum 
had fallen into the hands of divers new tenants. The latter 
change is precisely that which thirteenth-century tenementa in 
Norfolk underwent, and the Ewell field-book in its attribution of 
parcels to tenementa is like a fifteenth-century Norfolk field- 
book.^ How much the parcels of the Ewell tenementa were 
diq)ersed throughout the open arable area cannot be precisely 
ascertained, for the field-book often neglects to attribute strips 
to their respective tenementa. Considerable scattering there 

^ Register or Memorial of Ewell ^ Surrey (ed. Cecfl Deedes, London, 1913)1 pp. 
135-162. The texts printed are from a sixteenth-century transcript. 

* Ibid., pp. 1-135. 
» Ibid., p. 35. 

* Cf. above, p. 334. 


certainly was, since parcels belonging to the same tenement are 
often widely separated in the field-book's enumeration. The date 
at which the tenementa were in the hands of the tenants whose 
names they came to bear is determined by the extent. Since this 
doamient is cast in the usual thirteenth-century form, and since 
in 8 Henry IV a parcel of a tenement was still occasionally in the 
hands of a descendant of the original holder,^ the extent undoubt- 
edly belongs to the thirteenth century. What we see, then, at 
Ewell are thirteenth-century tenementa, very much like those 
of Norfolk, bearing the names of contemporary Kentish units. 
As in Kent, too, the subdivisicms of the rood at Ewell were known 
as '' day works." * Thus, the Ewell field arrangements, rq>ro- 
duced probably in many Surrey townships, become a connecting 
link between the East Anglian and Kentish systems. 

Essex as well as Surrey shows East Anglian and Kentish anal- 
ogies. Its ^' terra " and unnamed unit of villein tenure were 
East Anglian; its '' day's work," a unit of measure often used 
was Kentish, and there were of course Kentish counterparts for 
the consolidated or nearly consolidated virgates of Essex. Ex- 
cept for the northwestern part of the county, deviation from the 
original Kentish system was less than in East Anglia or in Surrey. 
Especially are the compact holdings of Essex noteworthy. Al- 
though we have no evidence that these were rectangular blocks, 
as were the Gillingham iuga, nevertheless the descriptions of 
virgates at Barking are not unlike those of iuga at Newchurch 
and eq>ecially at Wye. Only the name differed; whereas at 
Wye the virgate was the fourth part of the iugum, in Essex it 
was, for purposes of estimate, the fourth part of the hide. Units 
so essoitially alike in aspect seem to assure us that the system 
prevalent in Kent extended to the north of the Thames. 

It is doubtful whether the northwestern comer of Essex should 
be included in the above generalization. Much more (q)en field 
was to be found there than in the rest of the county, and the 
terriers of holdings are very much like those of Hertfordshire in 

* " I acrm quam tenet Petnis Saleman de tenemento suo.** One of the iuga 
of the extent was held by Johannes Sakman. lUgiskr pJ BwtU, pp. 34, 141. 

* IhkL, p. 159. 


the number, location, and naming of their parcels. Indeed, it 
would seem that the entire hilly district extending from. Essex 
to the Thames ought to be considered as one whole. It embraces, 
besides northwestern Essex, Hertfordshire and the Chiltem re- 
gion of southern Buckinghamshire and southern Oxfordshire. 
In its early days this region must have been, even more than at 
present, a wooded area. Denes, dells, groves, hills, and lees, 
which so often recur in the terminations of the names of open- 
field divisions in this region, suggest the original condition of the 
arable field. Hills and forests, as it happens, have been features 
not without influence upon field systems. In a territory where 
woodland was relatively extensive, where it was somewhat 
difficult to transform waste into arable, tenants can have had no 
concern about a compact fallow field to supplement the pasture. 
If, further, an additional arable furlong were at any time to be 
improved from the waste, one non-adjacent to the existing arable 
may now and then have been selected. The most feasible spot 
for improvement may often have been a valley or a slope which, 
after being brought under cultivation, would still be surrounded 
by woodland. These considerations should be kept in mind 
when surmises about the origin of the field system of this Chiltem 
region are made. Under the circumstances, it would seem haz- 
ardous to posit either midland or Kentish affiliations. It is 
improbable that simple two- or three-field arrangements, with vir- 
gates divided between the fields, were ever existent there; yet 
there may have been such in the earliest days, and the later ir- 
regularities may have arisen from the addition of assarted areas. 
On the other hand, there is no reason to assume a Kentish 
origin for the system. The villein units were named differently 
from the Kentish, they were not compact areas, they were never 
rated in " day's works," they were not subdivided among co- 
tenants. The Chiltem area should, therefore, be looked upon as 
a boundary region so influenced in its field system by its topog- 
raphy that its original affiliations cannot readily be discovered. 

Middlesex remains. In the east its open fields seem to have 
been like those of Hertfordshire; in the west it is just possible 
that some of the townships of the Thames plain were in three 


fields. The character of a Jacobean survey of Feltham is the 
principal reason for admitting the latter possibility; other evi- 
dence tells for irregular fields, like the adjacent ones of Surrey. 
What is clear is that the plain on both sides of the Thames west 
of London constituted a region where the midland system and the 
Kentish system came into contact. In Middlesex, the former 
seems to have prevailed, in Surrey the latter. The outcome was 
a hybrid system difficult to follow in its origins; and, indeed, this 
difficulty pertains to the field arrangements which characterized 
the entire lower valley of the Thames. Scarcely any part of 
England is so dependent upon conjecture for the writing of its 
early field history. For this reason it is to be hoped that new 
documents may in time dissipate some of the uncertainties which 
this chapter leaves unsettled. 


Results and Conjectures 

Ik an introductory chapter it was suggested that a study of field 
systems might throw light upon the history of English agricul- 
ture; it was intimated, too, that a discrimination between regions 
characterized by different field arrangements might be of im- 
portance for the history of English settlement. The time has 
come to inquire whether these predictions have been fulfilled. 

The preceding chapters have, it is hoped, established certain 
general conclusions. The current A^ew that the two- and three- 
field S3rstem was prevalent throughout England has been rejected, 
and it has been shown that this system was restricted to a large 
irregular area lying chiefly in the midlands. This central area 
reached northward as far as Durham and southward to the Chan- 
nel; it extended from Cambridgeshire on the east to the Welsh 
border on the west.^ In the counties farther toward the south- 
east, the southwest, and the northwest different field systems 
have been discovered. Whatever the dissimilarity between these, 
they have shown agreement in not dividing the unenclosed arable 
of their village fields into two or three parts to each of which 
one-half or one-third of every tenant's parcels were assigned. 

A marking-off of central England as the precinct of the two- 
and three-field system is significant for the history of agriculture. 
The development of this art has depended primarily upon the 
extent to which and the manner in which the soil has been utilized 
for the multiplication of agricultural products. At one end of the 
line of development stands the unenclosed open waste, parts of 
it transiently improved for purposes of tillage, as in the Scottish 
outfields; ' at the other end stands the modem enclosed farm, 
its acres cultivated in accordance with the principles of con- 
vertible husbandry. Between these termini lie two well-marked 

1 Cf. map fadng the title-page. ^ Cf. above, pp. 158 sq, 



phases of progress. The first is the reduction of the waste to 
regular and considerable, but still open-field, tillage; the second is 
the enclosure of the now well-established arable fields and re- 
maining commons, accompanied by some increase in improved 
pasture and by the substitution for the old fixed succession of 
crops and fallow of a varied rotation of grains and grasses. The 
first phase comprehends the development of open-field systems, 
the second the history of enclosure. With both these subjects 
the preceding chapters have been concerned, but with the latter 
somewhat incidentally. 

What, now, does our investigation show to have been the relar 
tion between the subdivision of England according to field S}rs- 
tems and the lines of agricultural devel(q>ment just indicated ? 
Precisely this, that enclosure was earliest achieved outside the 
precincts of the midland system. The map which Slater has 
roughly constructed from the list of eighteenth- and nineteenth- 
century enclosure acts shows that the midland area was the one 
where open fields lingered longest.^ Gay had already shown that 
the small enclosures of the sixteenth century took place particu- 
larly within this region, and had correctly inferred that the open 
fields then encroached upon lay largely within those coimties in 
which such fields were especially to be foimd.' In most counties 
lying without the midland area, unenclosed arable fields, so far as 
existent, disappeared for the most part before the era of parlia- 
mentary enclosure. Only Surrey, Middlesex, Hertfordshire, and 
a part of Norfolk th^n retained any appreciable stretches of 
them. In Northumberland, Durham, and Cumberland they had 
vanished rapidly after the sixteenth century. Earlier still they 
had ceased to be characteristic of Devon and Cornwall, Cheshire 
and Lancashire, Suffolk, Kent and Essex.' 

One reason for this early disappearance of unenclosed arable 
lies in the nature of the field systems prevalent in these counties. 
Since both Celtic and Kentish systems were in part determined 

* English PeasatUry^ p. 73. 

« " Indosures in England/' Quarterly Journal of Economics, xvii. 576, S93-S94- 
In a footnote contemporary authorities are dted. 
> Cf. above, diapters VI, VII, DC. 


by the custom of subdiA^ding land among hdrs, some intermix- 
ture of the parcels of tenants' holdings naturally appeared wher- 
ever either system was practiced. But the Celtic system did not 
necessarily imply an extensive development of nmrig, especially 
if the region were a pastoral one; and the Kentish system did not 
render immobile the intermixture of tenants' strips. It was 
possible under both systems for holdings to retain a certain degree 
of compactness, a fact which naturally facilitated enclosure. At 
any rate, no close connection between a three-course rotation of 
crops and three large fields ever arose. Often, too, there were 
in the counties in question tracts of woodland or waste, moor or 
down, so large that it was possible to set little store upon the use 
of the fallow arable for pasture, a feature which the midland sys- 
tem always emphasized. If it did seem desirable thus to utilize 
the fallow arable, as happened in Norfolk, wattles were employed. 
Freed in one way or another from the pasturage needs of the mid- 
lands, and disposed with none of the symmetrical arrangement 
there prevalent, the open-field arable acres of the non-midland 
counties readily yielded to enclosure at an early time. Such is 
the first and not the least noteworthy effect which field systems 
have had upon the agricultural development of England. 

The midland system, on the contrary, exerted upon this devel- 
opment an influence which was to some extent inhibitive. It 
delayed enclosure. The correspondence between its precinct 
on the one hand and the regions of the persbtent open field of the 
parliamentary awards on the other, shows in a general way that 
it was peculiarly favorable to the preservation of unenclosed 
arable, that it served, indeed, as a protective shell. In order to 
Adew this relationship more closely we have given somewhat care- 
ful attention to the later enclosure history of Oxfordshire. In 
consequence it has become apparent that those townships which 
longest remained open were the ones which clung most tenaciously 
to the old system. If this was the case in the eighteenth century, 
when incentives to abandon the traditional tillage were strong- 
est, the protection afforded by the system was probably even 
more effective during earlier centuries, when there was less 
thought of change. The persbtent open field of the midlands. 


therefore, coincides with the precincts of the two- and three-field 
system, because in a general way field system and unenclosed 
arable here stood to each other in the relation of cause to effect. 

Although the midland field system was inherently adverse to 
enclosure, it should not be inferred that within the large area 
characterized by it no progress took place between Anglo-Saxon 
days, when a two-field system was probably in use, and the early 
nineteenth century, when enclosure was for the most part ac- 
complished. For it is one of the cardinal theses of this book that« 
owing to changing field arrangements within the midlsmds, agricul- 
ture did develop there during the centuries in question. The first 
important movement of this sort was a transition from two-field 
to three-field tillage, a change which, according to our evidence, 
seems to have been brought about in many parts of the eastern 
and northern midlands during the thirteenth and fourteenth 
centuries. The second change was later, occurring apparently 
between the middle of the sixteenth century and the middle of 
the eighteenth. In some places it took the form of a subdivision 
of two fields into four, three of which were tilled annually; else- 
where it appeared as the transformation of regular fields into 
irregular ones, a process probably attended by improved tillage 
and certainly often accompanied by considerable piecemeal 

Evidence regarding the second change is the more abundant, 
and considerable of it has been cited.* Several Tudor and Jaco- 
bean surveys have established the fact that departures from the 
two- and three-field system were known in certain parts of Eng- 
land as early as the sixteenth century, especially in the counties 
of the western midlands from Durham to Somerset, and above all 
in the valley of the Severn. Typical of the disappearance of open 
fields in this region is the enclosure history of Herefordshire, 
which has been examined in some detail. 

The open arable fields of this county had before the days of par- 
liamentary enclosure so shnmken that they constituted not more 
than two and one-half per cent of its total area. The abandonment 
of communal tillage, and hence the achievement of enduring agri- 

* Cf. above, chapters III, IV. 


cultural progress, had been brought to pass, if not so promptly 
as in many non-midlsuid counties, at least earlier than in the east- 
em midlands. For this progress the county seems to have been 
indebted to certain irregularities in its field arrangements^ some 
of which were already apparent in Jacobean times. These irreg- 
ularities were in turn due to divers causes. The situation of 
townships within fertile river valleys, which throughout midland 
England often proved itself an influence conducive to the s^pear- 
ance of irregular fields, was characteristic of a large part of Here- 
fordshire. Another general influence, the location of townships 
within a forested area settled and improved relatively late, was 
not without effect in the county. Along with these wide-reaching 
causes of irregularities in field systems, irregularities which in 
turn were conducive to enclosure, went a special circumstance, 
probably operative in other counties of the western midlands as 
well as in Herefordshire. This was the small size of township 
fields. In a region characterized by hamlet settlements, as some 
of these western counties were, the improved arable was not great 
in amount and the tenants were not nimierous. Departures from 
a regular system were easier to make than where fields were large 
and tenants many; and our e^ddence goes to show that they were 
frequently made. The outcome of this and of the other influences 
mentioned was often a multiplicity of small fields. Jacobean 
surveys and enclosure awards have served to illustrate these 
fields and have shown how they facilitated piecemeal enclosure. 
For piecemeal enclosure was the form of agricultural develop- 
ment naturally adopted by districts circumstanced like Here- 

The course of events differed in Oxfordshire, a county which, 
because of its situation in the more eastern midlands, serves to 
exemplify the agricultural progress of that region. The first and 
dominant fact disclosed by our inquiries is that large tracts of open 
arable common field persisted in the county until the second half 
of the eighteenth century. Some thirty-seven per cent of its area 
then remained in this state and had to be enclosed by act of par- 
liament One should not infer from this that a certain amount of 
open arable field had failed to escape enclosure between the Middle 


Ages and the period in question. Large parts of some townshq)s 
and all of others had succumbed to it. Conducive thereto were 
certain of the causes operative in Herefordshire — situation in 
a river valley or in a forest area; contributory, too, was the 
cherished passion for country estates manifested by the new 
gentry of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The salient 
feature of agricultural development in Oxfordshire before 1760, 
however, and presumably the one characteristic of many counties 
of the eastern midlands, was not the enclosure of open fields but 
the improvement of them as they lay unenclosed. The redland 
district of northern Oxfordshire is typical. Once characterized 
by two-field townships, it began from the end of the sixteenth 
century to subdivide the two fields into four and to get therd>y 
an annual return from three-fourths of the acres rather than from 
one-half of them. In the eighteenth century still more of the 
arable was annually tilled and the rotation of crops became as 
complex as upon enclosed lands. 

Improvement in the tillage of unenclosed fields was not con- 
fined to Oxfordshire. We have testimony to the eariy appear- 
ance of four fields in southwestern and northeastern England, in 
the valleys of the Severn and Trent. Irregular fields, too, of 
which we have found many throughout the midlands as eariy as 
the sixteenth century, probably reflected other forms of improved 
cultivation, the nature of which is not always discernible from 
the surveys. In so far as these irregularities did not correspond 
with a changing tillage of arable, they imply that the arable 
strips were transformed to meadow, a phase of development pe- 
culiarly suited to river valleys. As it hq)pens, we have given 
most attention to such transformation in Durham open fields 
during the seventeenth century; but hints from other regions 
indicate that it was far from unknown throughout the northern 

In whatever way, therefore, open arable fields underwent 
change before the middle of the eighteenth century, whether they 
submitted to a process of piecemeal enclosure with some conver- 
sion to meadow and pasture, or whether on the other hand they 
attained to a higher standard of tillage, remaining arable the 


while, the fact cannot be escaped that field systems, either as 
cause or as manifestation, were associated with agricultural de- 
vdopm^it For this reason the preceding chapters have a bear- 
ing upon the history of English farming. 

If the influence of divergent field systems upon the progress 
of the enclosure of open arable fields is reasonably clear, there is 
more doubt about the interpretation of this diversity in relation 
to the history of the early settlement of England. The* tradi- 
tional account of the Anglo-Saxon occupation, as gleaned from 
Bede and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, has by modern scholars 
been brought into connection with other e^^dence. Most oiq30sed 
to it and most suggestive is Seebohm's theory of a Roman 
origin of the manor, its fields, and its class distinctions.^ Meitzen 
and Maitland have pointed to the contrast between nucleated 
and scattered settlements, with an intimation that the latter 
were of Celtic origin.' Chadwick has done much to abolish the 
distinction between Angles and Saxons, concluding that only 
Kent, the Isle of Wight, and the southern coast of Hampshire 
were occupied by a distinct branch of the invaders.* Turner, 
finally, has sketched a theory which discerns Roman elements 
in the five-hide manor, and possibly in the rod of southern 

All stud^its of Anglo-Saxon England agree upon the dominance 
which the new-comers of the fifth century exercised upon insti** 
tutions. L^al, military, and political organization became Ger- 
manic. The spoken language retained few Celtic words, while 
villages and towns assumed names which in their terminations at 
least are Teutonic. If any Roman or Celtic influence survived, 
it was in matters connected with the lowest stratum of society, 
the stratum engaged primarily in the cultivation of the soQ. 
By enslaving a considerable mass of the British peculation, itself 
already Romanized, the conquerors could, it is clear, have created^ 

^ Engfisk Village CommunUy, pp. 409 sq, 

' Meitzen, Siedelung und Agrarwesen^ ii. 118 sq,, and Anlage 66a; Maitland, 
Dmiusday Book and Beyond, p. 15. 

* H. M. Chadwick, Origin of Ike English Nation, p. 88. 

* G. J. Turner, Calendar of ike Feet of Fines rdating to the County of Huntingdon, 
pp. Izz, ciz. 


a rural estate not unlike the later mediaeval manor. In taking 
over the cultivators of the soil they might also have adopted the 
methods of tillage already practiced by the sitting tenants. As 
a result, the ancient tenant-holding and its relation to the town- 
ship's arable would have persisted after the Germanic conquest. 
On the assimiption, therefore, that the Romano-Celtic population 
was to some extent assimilated rather than exterminated, we 
should* expect to find in Anglo-Saxon England a sub-stratum of 
servile dependents whose holdings had Roman or possibly Celtic 
characteristics. What should fi^)pear in the extant evidence as 
testimony to the existence of a conquered and dq)ressed group 
are Roman or Celtic agrarian usages and early traces of serf- 
dom. This was Seebohm's thesis, and to a limited extent it is 

The subject discussed in the preceding pages is one that touches 
the history of settlement at just this point. The nature of field 
systems depends primarily upon the relation of the unit of villdn 
tenure to the arable fields. For this reason it is pertinent to 
inquire in what measure the systems that have been described 
are Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, or Roman. So far as this point can be 
ascertained, additional matter will be at hand for solving a 
troublesome problem of English social history. 

One limitation of our evidence touching field systems which 
seriously impairs its applicability to the problem above described 
is its relatively late character. Little of it antedates the thir- 
teenth century, a period itself seven hundred years removed 
from the Germanic invasion. Although Domesday Book and 
certain twelfth-century documents refer to the unit of villdn 
tenure, they disclose scarcely more than the names it bore, giv- 
ing no descriptions that relate it to the arable fields in which it 
lay. More informing are the Anglo-Saxon charters, which in a 
few instances testify to the existence of intermixed parcels and 
by phrases in the boundaries hint at open-field usages. Even 
the assurance, however, that some form of open field existed in 
midland England in the tenth century is not very valuable for 
our purpose, partly because the information is still four centuries 
later than the coming of the Germans, but still more because. 


in view of the fact that open-field arable of one sort or another 
could be found throughout England in the thirteenth century, 
the existence of it at an earlier time is almost a postulate. What 
we should like to know are the varieties of open field with which 
the Anglo-Saxons were familiar, and of these the charters tell 
us nothing. It is necessary, then, to assume that distinctions 
which obtained in the thirteenth century are assignable to the 
period that saw the accomplishment of Saxon settlement, or at 
least to the period that followed the Danish invasions. If this 
assumption be not admitted, variations in field systems have 
nothing to tell about the settlement of England. 

If it be granted, however, that field arrangements as we find 
them in the thirteenth century represent more ancient usages, 
the preceding chapters have implications. It has appeared that 
a large midland area was characterized by a two- and three-field 
system. That this system was not Celtic an examination of 
Scottish, Irish, and Welsh evidence has made dear. In Celtic 
countries we do not find the arable of a farm, township, or town- 
land divided into two or three equal compact areas and tilled 
under a rotation of two crops and a fallow. This was, on the 
other hand, or it came to be, a custom prevalent in Germany, es- 
pecially east and south of the Weser.^ Since this is the region 
from which the invaders who settled midland England appear to 
have come,' it is probable that the two- and three-field arrange- 
ments of the midlsmds represent Germanic usage.' If this be 
true, the thorough Germanization of central England suggested 
by various practices is confirmed by the testimony of field sys- 
tems. No Romano-Briton population remained there in numbers 
large enough to preserve either a Celtic or a Roman method of 
tilling the soil. 

The westernmost territory which thus yielded to the invasion 
of Teutonic custom is interesting, since it did so rather grudg- 
ingly. It comprised the counties of Herefordshire and Shrop- 
shire, a fertile region early occupied by the Magonsaetan. Here, 

> Meitzen, Skddung und Agrarwesen, i. 33-36, 67, 169, and Atlas, Uebenichts- 
karte; Hanaaen, Agrarhistonsche AbhtrndimngeH, i. 171. 

' Chadwick^ Origin of the English NaHon, pp, 88, 91, 116; map, p. 112. 
' Cf. Meitzen, as above, ii. no. 


as in the midlands, the invaders impressed upon their new con- 
quest an open-field system which, according to our earliest 
evidence, was one of three fields. In another req>ect, however, 
they seem to have adopted the habits of their predecessors: 
their settlements were small and of the hamlet type. Perhaps 
they assimilated a part of the Briton population itself along with 
the Celtic type of settlement. Place-names here evince more of a 
commingling of Celtic and Anglo-Saxon elements than is usual in 
the midlands — a further indication that there was in these two 
counties a more equitable balance of Celtic and Germanic forces 
in matters of settlement and agriculture than appears elsewhere 
in England, unless it be in Northumberland. 

Other counties of the west and north diverged more sharply 
from the midland model. Often townships and settlements in 
them were small, as in Celtic countries. In Cornwall, Devon, Che- 
shire, and southern Lancashire open arable fields seem never to 
have been numerous or, in any township, extensive. The same 
cannot be said of Northumberland, Cumberland, and ncnrthem 
Lancashire, where such fields were relatively frequent in the 
thirteenth century and comprised the largest part of the tilled 
land of each township. But whether large or smaU, numerous or 
infrequent, the open arable fields of all these counties were not 
of the midland type. In no instance (with perhaps a reserva* 
tion relative to Northumberland) were they di^^ded into two or 
three equal parts to which the strips of each holding were equi- 
tably assigned. In appearance they were more like Scottish or 
Irish open fields, in which the strips were said to lie in runrig. 
The underlying principle of runrig was the assignment to each 
tenant of a share in every kind of soil within a township, when- 
ever an occasion for distribution arose. Since the several qual- 
ities of land were likely to lie in various parts of the cultivated 
area, a scattering of parcels was to some extent the result Re- 
course to runrig, therefore, brought about either temporarily or 
permanently a diq>ersion of the parcels of a holding. Yet there 
was no guarantee that these would be as symmetrically located 
throughout the arable area as they were in two- and three-field 
townships. There might even occur a segregation of parcels, a 


feature which certain Cumberland terriers seem to reveal. In 
general, however, the parcels in the larger township fields which 
lay in runrig, especially those in Northumberland, doubtless 
remained widely diq>ersed. 

Why, then, it niay be asked, was the custom of allotting strips 
in runrig incompatible with a three-field system ? The answer 
is that it was not necessarily incompatible, since runrig might 
under certain conditions develop into the system in question. 
To understand what these conditions were we must turn to an- 
other aspect of Cdtic field arrangeijients still visible in eight- 
eenth-century Scotland. This was the practice, appropriate to 
primitive agriculture, of improving successivdy diffeirent parts of 
the waste and allowing each part in turn to revert to fallow for 
a series of years. Traces of such a custom are also perceptible in 
documents from Cumberland, but are more apparent in others 
from Northumberland, a fact that has led us to formulate the 
hypothesis that the English border counties originally had the 
same field system as Scotland but developed it differently. 

In both regions, we may surmise, field arrangements were 
based upon runrig, a device that assigned to all tenants within 
the township strips in any tract of waste brought under transient 
tillage. As agriculture advanced, however, the two regions ex- 
panded this system in different ways. Scottish husbandry turned 
to an intensive tillage of the arable which lay nearest the home- 
stead, the so-called '' infield," and by the aid of manure took from 
it an annual crop, the remaining '' outfield " being treated in the 
old manner. In the English border counties, on the other hand, 
no permanent differentiation was made between infield and out- 
field; but, as the demand for a greater return from the soil grew, 
the period of fallow which had been allowed to the transiently 
improved parcels of waste was shortened. Eventually, we may 
suiqK)8e, it was reduced to an interval of one year in three, as it 
aiq)ears in fourteenth-century Northumberland extents. When 
this stage was reached, transition to a three-field system was 
feasible,^ involving only such regrouping of the parcels of the 
headings as would render compact the area Mi fallow each year. 
Since the advantage of a fallow field of this sort lay in its utility 


for purposes of pasturage, the transition in question may have 
occurred in those places in which it was desirable to utilize all 
available pasture. Where, on the other hand, the moor and fell 
of the township furnished ample grazing ground, it may never 
have come about at all. Certain features of the Northumber- 
land evidence, especially the marking-off of fields (m sixteenth- 
century maps, suggest that some townships of this county may 
have adopted the three-field system; but the unequal division 
of the parcels of the tenants' holdings among the fields leaves the 
matter in doubt. Other Northumberland townshq>s probably 
never created three equal compact fields. Nothing whatever in 
the evidence from Cumberland and northern Lancashire leads us 
to think that the three-field system ever devel<q)ed there. 

Cheshire, southern Lancashire, western Somerset, Devon, and 
Cornwall were regions in which there was either a far slighter 
extension of runrig in early days or a more n4>id conscdidation 
of scattered parcels than in Northumberland, Cumberland, and 
northern Lancashire. In explaining how runrig arose we have 
had occasion to point out that a farm, township, or townland 
might show no trace of it if the custom of j<»nt successicm had 
not been ^ective, or if the landlord had intervened to prevait 
subdivision, or if he had at any time exercised his authority by 
reconsolidating the subdivided arable; it might appear in only a 
modified form if the lands to be divided were meadow or pasture 
rather than arable and the need of marking out strips for coH^fpex- 
ative ploughing did not arise. One or another of these factors 
seems to have been at work in the counties now under considera- 
tion. Traces of runrig have been found in each of them, but the 
intermixed strips show evident tendencies toward early disi^ 
pearance. In Cornwall and Devon, furthermore, the lands so 
divided were at times apparently improved waste or marsh. The 
conclusion suggested is that the counties in question were sub- 
jected to Celtic influoice in the matter of field systems, but in a 
different way from those to the north: the original farms, ap- 
parofitly like many in pastoral Wales, sometimes esci4>ed sub- 
division, or at least escaped it to such a degree that reconsdida- 
tion was easy and was achieved at an eariy date. 


Southeastern England with its divergent field systems was 
widely separated from the counties in which Celtic influence was 
manifested. Since the great midland area stretched between, 
there would seem to be little a priori probability that irregularities 
in southeastern fields were of Celtic origin. It is of course possible 
to argue that all English field systems arose on the basis of runrig, 
as did the Celtic. On this hypothesis the two- and three-field 
arrangements of the midlands would be such adaptations of run- 
rig as have been suggested above relative to Northumberland,^ 
and the systems of the south and east would be other manifesta- 
tions of it. Such a theory, however, ignores the fact that the 
midland system was that of the Germans in their home land and 
was thus more than any other essentially Teutonic. Or are we to 
assume that the Germans, both in Germany and in England, had 
a genius for developing runrig into a more r^ular system ? At 
all events, the hypothesis would encounter a further difficulty in 
the fact that the peculiarities of the fields of southeastern England 
were not aU Celtic in type. Settlements and fields here were not 
small, as they were on the western border, and certain of the 
earliest units which are met with in the southeast had no corre- 
spondents at all in the west. 

The Kentish system is at once most divergent and most com- 
prehensible. The best-defined feature of it is the iugum, the 
unit of villein tenure, which, compact and rectangular in shape, 
had its exact counterpart nowhere else in England. If we ask 
whether the continent offered analogies, we are at once reminded 
of Roman measurements of land. The application of these, as 
Mdtzen has shown,* resulted in a superficial unit of the sort 
actually found in fourteenth-century Kent. This similarity is 
of the highest importance; for, despite the centuries that have 
to be bridged, we are led to the inference that the Kentish field 
^rstem was of Roman origin. While the Anglo-Saxons who 
occupied the midlands and the south established there the de- 
ments of a two- and three-field system, the Germans who occupied 
Kent seem to have adopted Roman arrangements and to have 

" Cf. above, p. 225. 

' Sieddumg und Agrarwesem, i. 276-331, and Anlage 29. 


maintained a closer agrarian tie with Roman Britain than per- 
sisted elsewhere in the island. 

The field arrangements of the other southeastern counties are 
more difficult to interpret, and in attempting to discover their 
origin we advance farther into the realm of conjecture. To ex- 
plain the formation of East AngUan eriungs and tenementa an 
hypothesb has been sketched which in brief is as follows. The 
peculiar pasturage arrangements of Norfolk and Suffolk, arising 
from the possession by individuals land small manors of the privi- 
lege of independent f oldage, is suggestive of a connection between 
the formation of these manors and the develc^ment oi the field 
system of the region. Inasmuch as the manors antedate Dcnnes- 
day Book, the foldage privileges may be looked upon as corre- 
q>ondingly early. A more decisive feature in the East Anglian 
system, however, is the a^)ect assumed by its unit of villein 
tenure when we fij*st get descriptions of it in the thirteenth 
century. Its compactness in some instances and the segregation 
oi its parcels in others reveal its similarity to the Kentish iugum; 
but it was usually less like the intact Kentish unit than like a 
Kentish holding after the iuga had for some generations been sub- 
divided and a tenant had come to hold parcels in several neigh- 
boring iuga. This feature of the East Anglian tenementum is 
perhiq>s best explained by the supposition that a pre-Norman 
organization of petty manors in East Anglia arrested for a mo- 
ment the disintegration of ancient iuga which were once charac- 
teristic of the region, and established as new units the beddings 
that we find. Such a reorganization of the agrarian situation 
we have tentatively attributed to the Danish invasicm, since to 
that intrusion was due the greatest social ijqpheaval of Anglo- 
Saxon days. In this way the East An^ian and Kentish field 
systems, originally similar, may have a»ne to be unlike each other. 
Should these inferences be correct, the area within which Rmnan 
influence persisted after the invasions of the fifth century is en- 
larged to include, along with Kent, two otbo* counties of the 

Essex, situated as it is between Kent and East Anglia, could 
difficulty have escaped falhng within the same q[^re of 


agrarian influence. Nor, as a matter of fact, was its field system 
of such a character as to tell against a belief that it did so. To 
be sure, the villein imits in Essex were virgates, as they were not 
to the north or the south; but the virgates in a large part of the 
county taided to be compact areas which may weU have beeii 
related to the Kentish iuga. Similarities of nomenclature, too, 
especially the employment of the term '' day's work," emphasize 
the connection with Kent. 

Like peculiarities tempt us to extend the Kentish system to 
Surrey. " Iuga " and " day's works " were once known at Ewell, 
and what we learn about the later field arrangements of the 
county is not prohibitive of an early prevalence of the Kentish 
system within its borders. Division of holdings among three 
arable fields seems never to have prevailed there; nor can the 
aspect of a villein holding have differed greatly from that of one 
in East Ang^, or from the appearance ol one in Kent after the 
disintegration of the iuga had set in. In view of these circum- 
stances, the most credible hypothesis relative to Surrey is the 
assumption that, like East Anglia and Essex, it was originally 
within the Roman sphere of agrarian influence; that, like these 
three counties, it diverged somewhat more from the norm than 
did Kent; and finally that, like East Anglia, it reorganized the 
disintegrating iugum, adopting for the new unit the name of the 
midland virgate, a name likewise favored in Essex. 

Whether the same hypothesis should be applied to the region 
which constitutes Middlesex, Hertfordshire, and the Chiltems is 
uncertain. This is an area which, with the exception of its north- 
em fringe and possibly the flat plain west from London, seems not 
to have known the three-field system. On the other hand, its 
field nomenclature and the absence of consolidation which the 
parcels of its holdings reveal apparently leave it without the 
sphere of Kentish or Roman influence. A factor that enters into 
the situation is the hilly character of the district, which was 
doubtless once heavily forested. Probably much of it was set- 
tled later than the plains round about, and a large part of the 
arable was tmdoubtedly improved from the forest state. Whether 
the tiny settlements which thus extended their tillage organized 


their first fields after midland or after Kentish models is a question 
that must be left ufidetermined. Since the region forms a border- 
land between these two q>heres of influence, some settlers may 
have come from the midlands and others from the southeast. 
The only thing that is clear is the development of arable fields 
through the assarting of the waste in such manner that the ten- 
ants' holdings came to comprise a certain amount of unenclosed 
land lying in scattered parcels. 

The foregoing explanation of the field systems of southeastern 
England, hypothetical as it is in part, does at least leave us with 
a generalizaticm which, if true, is important. It implies that 
throughout five counties of the southeast the influence of Roman 
Britain in agrarian affairs persbted after the Germanic conquest 
of the fifth century. Either the conquerors showed extraordi- 
nary flexibility in ad(q>ting a field system with which they must 
have been unfamiliar, or they q>ared a part of the native pecu- 
lation who, as serfs, continued to employ their own agricultural 
methods. Since the latter supposition is the more credible, we 
are led to posit a greater survival of the Romano-Celtic popula- 
tion in southeastern Britain than in the midlands. 

Anglo-Saxon England is thus, so far as field systems are indic-